Softball: Jo Jo Vermett, Woodstock North outlasts Crystal Lake Central in 9 innings

Vermett breaks team’s single-season record with 7th home run in 3-2 win

Woodstock North’s Jo Jo Vermett watches her homer leave the yard in varsity softball at Crystal Lake Central Friday.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Woodstock North senior pitcher Jo Jo Vermett broke the program’s single-season home run record – held previously by her older sister Chloe, a 2019 graduate – with her seventh home run in the top of the sixth inning against Crystal Lake Central.

The homer, which came on a 3-2 pitch from Central starter Makayla Malone, got out in a hurry over the center-field fence and gave the Thunder their first lead in a game otherwise dominated by the pitchers.

The Tigers rallied in the bottom of the seventh, however, getting a two-out double from Cassidy Murphy to score Giada Motto, who drew a walk earlier in the inning.

The teams remained tied until the top of the ninth, when sophomore Makayla Nordahl ripped a double to the right-center gap, scoring Emily Maxwell all the way from first.

Vermett buckled down in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Tigers’ 3-4-5 hitters in order as the Thunder held on for a 3-2 win in nonconference action Friday.

“She just has the mindset in her, she wanted it,” first-year North coach Amy Nero said of her senior ace. “She’s been there before.”

In addition to her no-doubt homer, Vermett made plenty of big plays Friday to help the Thunder secure the win.

With runners on second and third and out in the sixth, Vermett fielded a bunt and faked a throw to first base before spinning around and catching the lead runner standing between third base and home. Vermett threw over to shortstop Krista Herrmann, who broke for third and tagged the runner for the second out before getting out of the inning with a strikeout.

Woodstock North’s Jo Jo Vermett is greeted at the plate on a home run in varsity softball at Crystal Lake Central Friday.

Vermett again had to work out of trouble in the eighth after Central put runners on second and third with two outs. She retired Malone on a groundout, then the Thunder took the lead the next inning on Nordahl’s double.

Friday’s win felt extra nice after the Thunder (11-7) lost to Central (10-5) at the Woodstock Tournament last weekend.

“We’re having a great season and looking [forward], we have a lot of potential,” said Vermett, who gave up two runs on eight hits in the complete game, striking out 11 and walking four. “This group is a pretty young group, but there’s a lot of girls who can step up.”

Nordahl’s go-ahead, RBI double in the ninth came on a 2-2 pitch after going hitless in her three previous at-bats against Malone.

“It was really intense,” Nordahl said. “[Vermett] pitched a great game and I think [Malone] pitched a great game, too. She has a really good changeup ... so we just had to expect that. I’m really proud of our team.”

North’s Aly Jordan had two hits batting leadoff, while the Tigers were led offensively by Liv Shaw (2 for 5), who had an RBI single in the first inning.

Crystal Lake Central’s Makayla Malone makes an offering against Woodstock North in varsity softball at Crystal Lake Friday.

Malone was the tough-luck loser and threw all nine innings to match Vermett. She gave up three runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts and four walks. The other run she gave up was a home run to No. 9 hitter Mackenzie Schnulle (2 for 4), who hit the ball over the right-field fence to tie the game at 1-1 in the third.

Central coach Brian Strombom felt Malone deserved a better fate. She threw 156 pitches in the loss, while Vermett tossed 160.

“I just think [Malone] deserved better than how it turned it today, but that’s how it is,” Strombom said. “She was changing speeds, she was changing locations and placing the ball really well. There were just a couple where they got her, but other than that, she was tough. I wanted to see her get a win today, but she’s a competitor. She’ll be back.”