Sage Mardjetko, have a week.
Lemont’s junior pitcher and South Carolina recruit stuffed a season’s full of highlights into a six-day stretch. Mardjetko tossed a no-hitter and perfect game on back-to-back days. Then she threw a 16-strikeout gem against rival Oak Forest on May 18 to clinch a conference title.
And none of those were even Mardjetko’s most memorable moment of a marvelous week.
On May 17, Lemont’s star pitcher did it with her bat, crushing a walk-off home run to beat defending Class 4A state champion Marist 2-1 in eight innings.
“It was definitely exciting,” Mardjetko said. “The second it came off my bat all my teammates were running on the field before I even touched first base. That was awesome, so much fun, such a great experience.”
It was Mardjetko’s second homer of the season and easily one she won’t soon forget. Marist is ranked No. 3 in Class 4A in the latest Illinois Softball Coaches Association poll. Lemont is No. 2 in Class 3A.
“It was definitely awesome. They are such a good team,” Mardjetko said. “Beating them, it showed that we are as good as any team in the state. I also know a lot of the girls on the Marist team because of travel ball, so beating them was a lot of fun.”
Just like her team, Mardjetko is as good as any pitcher in the state.
She has a 13-1 record and 0.39 earned run average with 209 strikeouts and just 17 hits allowed over 90 2/3 innings.
Mardjetko had quite a 24 hours in the circle the weekend of May 13-14.
On May 13, she struck out 18 in no-hitting conference rival Oak Forest. The next day, she tossed a perfect game with 14 strikeouts to beat Class 4A second-ranked Lincoln-Way Central 2-0.
“Just had to take it one pitch at a time, focusing on getting ahead. Everything was working that day,” Mardjetko said. “It helps a lot that [catcher] Frankie [Rita] called a great game. She is definitely a major part of it. Those wins make us realize how good we really are. If we bring our best game and compete like we know how, we can beat anyone.”
Mardjetko and Lemont certainly brought a full head of steam into regionals. Mardjetko had three straight playoff shutouts last year in leading Lemont to second place in Class 3A in its first state appearance since 1989.
The fire burns hot within her to take the next step this postseason.
“Compared to where I felt last year at this time, I definitely feel a lot better knowing that all of my pitches are working and going where I want them to. That gives me more confidence,” Mardjetko said. “We’re just taking every game one at a time, working hard in practice and in games to execute the little things that could have helped us last year – base running, bunts, things that seem like it wouldn’t cost you a game but are definitely things that can take you all the way.”
Glenbard South no-hitter a team effort
Glenbard South’s Hannah Rafferty-Flatter had herself quite a pitching performance May 16, no-hitting Fenton with 12 strikeouts in a 5-0 Raiders win.
She was quick to dish out praise all-around for everyone who made it possible.
“My defense was there to back me up the whole game,” Rafferty-Flatter said. “My catcher Maddy Blazek, we sat down together before the game and went over the notes we had on them, focused on what pitches we needed to throw and really worked well together. Our shortstop, she was amazing with offensive and defensive plays and had a clutch hit to put us in the lead to make it 5-0 that allowed me to be more comfortable. Julia [Gavin] was great catching popups that were difficult in the wind. My defense had my back and made it easier for me to be confident on the mound.”
Rafferty-Flatter threw a no-hitter last year against East Aurora and seemed to recall another conference no-hitter. But throwing one against Fenton, one of the Raiders’ biggest conference rivals, had a different energy.
From previous matchups, Rafferty-Flatter knew where she needed to pitch the Fenton hitters and what pitches to throw.
“If you leave it up the river with the hitters on Fenton, they can take the ball and turn on it. We focused on warmups, staying for an extra 10 minutes spinning the ball and making sure my spin pitches were working,” Rafferty-Flatter said. “My offspeed pitch, my changeup was a big part of my success. With a team like Fenton, they are going to catch up to you. The reassurance my team gave me that if the umpire didn’t call the pitch a strike that it was OK, on to the next one, they were really there. It really helped me to have the confidence that they were there for me in those situations.”
Around the horn
Lyons Township’s Lily Hanafin recorded her 200th varsity strikeout. With Downers Grove North’s 6-5 loss to Glenbard West in the conference finale, Downers North and Lyons shared the West Suburban Silver title.