Softball: Gretchen Huber, Huntley avenge loss to Prairie Ridge, take control of FVC

Huntley’s Gretchen Huber throws a pitch during a Fox Valley Conference softball game on against Prairie Ridge Monday, April 29, 2024, at Prairie Ridge High School.

CRYSTAL LAKE – The first time Huntley faced rival Prairie Ridge this season, the Red Raiders were no-hit by Wolves standout sophomore Reese Mosolino.

Monday’s Fox Valley Conference rematch turned out differently for the visiting Red Raiders, who got a two-hit gem of their own from junior starting pitcher Gretchen Huber.

The result was a pivotal 5-1 Huntley victory, as Huber struck out eight to exact a bit of revenge.

More importantly, the win propelled the Red Raiders (19-5, 11-2 FVC) into sole possession of first place in the conference over the Wolves (16-3, 10-3), who couldn’t solve Huber’s masterful command.

“I just tried to keep the ball down in the zone and focused on location,” Huber said. “They have an outstanding lineup, so my goal was to force them to hit the ball on the ground while trusting my defense.

“I also tried to prioritize changing my speeds and their eye level to keep their hitters off-balance.”

Huntley’s Sadie Svendsen slides into home plate in from of the throw to Prairie Ridge’s Reese Vrba during a Fox Valley Conference softball game on Monday, April 29, 2024, at Prairie Ridge High School.

Huber allowed a second-inning single to Kylie Carroll, then a sixth-inning solo home run to Emily Harlow, while scattering three walks, but that was it.

On April 8, Huber lost the first matchup between the two teams 1-0 on a wild pitch.

So the irony wasn’t lost on her when Huntley scored twice in the top of the first Monday, courtesy of a pair of uncharacteristic wild pitches by Mosolino, compounded by two Wolves errors, to open the game.

Just like that, it was 2-0 Huntley. It was all the support she’d need.

“I’m just happy for my teammates, and happy we found a way to win,” Huber said. “We were able to take advantage of the few mistakes Prairie Ridge made, and everyone around me lifted me up and supported me. It was only one game, but it was a big one for us.”

Huntley leadoff hitter Ajai Bonner (2 for 4) set the table with a single, double and a stolen base, while No. 2 batter Aubrina Adamik (1 for 3) reached base safely twice.

The Raiders scored three more times in the sixth. Lyla Ginczycki belted a leadoff double to right-center, then a pair of Wolves errors, plus an RBI groundout from No. 8 hitter Isabella Boskey, made it 5-0 Huntley. Harlow’s solo blast a half-inning later put the Wolves on the board for their only run.

To her credit, Mosolino allowed only five hits, walked three and notched eight strikeouts. Three of her five runs allowed were unearned.

She hit 68 mph on Huntley’s radar gun several times.

“We just have to shake it off,” Mosolino said. “We win as a team, and we lose as a team, and as long as we clean up a few things, we’re confident we can rebound. There’s still a lot to look forward to.”

Prairie Ridge’s Emily Harlow is congratulated by her teammates after she hit a home run during a Fox Valley Conference softball game against Huntley on Monday, April 29, 2024, at Prairie Ridge High School.

Prairie Ridge coach Scott Busam concurred.

“Anything can happen, and we’re not out of the FVC race by any means,” Busam said. “You give any team extra chances, and it’s going to come back to bite you. Even more so against a talented team like Huntley.

“They’re loaded with speed up and down their lineup, and they capitalize on mistakes because they’re aggressive and intelligent. Hats off to them, they did what they needed to, and they’re in first now because of it. But I’m extremely proud of our girls. We’ve come a long way since last season, and any time you split a pair of games against a team like Huntley, we’ll take that.”

Carroll was the lone Wolves player who seemed to have Huber’s number, as she singled and walked twice in her three plate appearances against her. But Huber stranded Carroll at first base all three times.

Meanwhile, according to Huntley coach Mark Petryniec, his team put 17 balls in play the first time it faced the Wolves, despite being no-hit.

The Raiders put 21 balls in play Monday, out of 31 plate appearances, improving upon that number.

“We only have two seniors in our lineup and three on our team,” Petryniec said. “So to see them come out twice and compete at this level against a team as talented as Prairie Ridge is incredibly encouraging.

“It just so happened the stakes were a bit higher today. We’ll definitely take it. What’s been great about this group is, even though we’re not going to outslug anyone, we’re scrappy. We continue to find ways to keep winning by hustling, playing great defense, executing in timely situations and doing the little things right.”

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