Softball: Seneca’s Tessa Krull putting together worthy sequel to phenomenal freshman year

Fighting Irish ace is 24-2 with 1.17 ERA heading into Class 2A sectional

Seneca's Tessa Krull delivers home against the WFC Warriors on Monday, April 15, 2024.

Tessa Krull was awfully good her freshman season.

With a 1.42 ERA, 19-4 record and 229 strikeouts over 136 2/3 innings, Seneca’s tall right-handed ace earned Tri-County Conference Pitcher of the Year honors and was the only freshman to appear on the 2023 Times All-Area Softball Team – anywhere on the team, that is, not just on the first team, where she was firmly, no doubt about it a featured player.

Now with her sophomore season beginning to wind down, it’s safe to say Krull has been even better in her second season manning the circle for the Tri-County Conference and regional champion Fighting Irish.

“I just want to stay on top and make sure I’m performing as well as I did last year,” Krull said after making the final out of her three-hit, 16-strikeout shutout of Lexington/Ridgeview in Friday’s Class 2A Seneca Regional championship game.

“My movement pitches have been way better. Last year I just threw a lot of outside fastballs, but now I have more control of my movement pitches.”

The results have spoken for themselves.

Heading into Tuesday’s semifinal of the Class 2A Herscher Sectional against old rival Coal City, Krull and her Fighting Irish teammates carry a sparkling 32-3 record. Individually, in addition to being a heart-of-the-lineup hitter, Krull has a 24-2 record in the circle with a 1.17 ERA and 255 strikeouts over 161 1/3 innings.

Tessa Krull

Across the board, Krull’s numbers are even better than her spectacular debut season. It’s a fact that hasn’t been lost on Seneca coach Brian Holman.

“The difference between this year and last year is she’s just tougher. She’s tougher in big situations. She’s tougher in big games.”

—  Seneca softball coach Brian Holman, on star pitcher Tessa Krull

“The difference between this year and last year is she’s just tougher,” Holman said. “She’s tougher in big situations. She’s tougher in big games. Last year she was a freshman, and we were guiding her through it all, kind of how [varsity softball] worked.

“This year we can trot her out there and say‚ ’Hey, this is what you need to do. Shut these guys down. Be a force,’ and she doesn’t get rattled. Last year we backed off a bit, kind of let her feel it out.

“She’s been playing at an all-state level this year.”

Friday’s 6-0 regional championship win saw Krull dominate a Lexington/Ridgeview lineup that put up 10 runs on Marquette in the season opener, scored five or more runs in 23 of its previous 32 games and scored in double digits in a dozen games this spring. The Mustangs never got a runner as far as third base, in fact.

She safeguarded a 1-0 lead her team gave her in the bottom of the first inning, thanks to an Alyssa Zellers leadoff single, a pair of wild pitches and Camryn Stecken’s one-out sacrifice fly until the Fighting Irish’s batting order provided her some cushion. Seneca’s four-run fifth innings was highlighted by the first of two Hayden Pfeifer solo home runs and a single by Krull’s batterymate, sophomore catcher Lexie Buis.

“[That fifth inning] made me feel so good,” Krull said. “Because we had insurance runs, and I knew that it’d be fine if some [Lexington/Ridgeview] people get on. Even if they scored, it’d take a lot for them to keep scoring and catch up.”

Understanding the competition only gets better from here – starting with 21-10 Coal City in a sectional that also includes 21-16 Herscher and 30-1 Beecher, which on Saturday knocked off Joliet Catholic – Krull is excited for the opportunity she and her teammates have to keep competing.

“We just have to keep playing how we have been – hit the ball when we need it, keep making plays,” she said.

Holman, for his part, is excited to see what kind of player Krull can grow into.

“She’s as good as it gets,” he said, “and we’ve got her for a couple more years. So we’ll savor that.”

Seneca's Tessa Krull slides safely into third base as the ball gets away from St. Bede's Lili Bosnich on Tuesday, May 7, 2024 at St. Bede Academy.
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