Softball notebook: Minooka and Oswego battling it out; Lemont gets hot at right time

Lincoln-Way Central sits firmly atop Southwest Suburban Conference

Minooka’s Jaelle Hamilton (17) celebrates after hitting a single against Yorkville during a softball game at Yorkville High School on Thursday, April 11, 2024.

Monday was supposed to mark one of the biggest regular-season games of the season with Minooka slated to visit Oswego in a potentially conference-deciding matchup.

If you looked outside your window Monday, you can guess what happened.

Now, Minooka will instead visit Oswego on Friday. It’s still slated to be one of the biggest games of the year.

Both teams have been outstanding all season with Minooka’s record 25-3-1 overall and Oswego 22-8. The Indians and the Panthers are 1-2 in the Southwest Prairie Conference standings, with Minooka at 13-1 and Oswego 12-2.

Of course, both teams already are in great position for the postseason regardless of Friday’s outcome, but the bragging rights on the line are worth noting.

Oswego players celebrate after defeating Yorkville in a softball game at Yorkville High School on Thursday, May 9, 2024.

Assuming Oswego defeats Oswego East and Minooka beats Plainfield North and West Aurora, Friday’s game will determine this year’s conference champion. If Minooka wins, it wins the conference outright. If Oswego wins, the two teams will share the title.

Indians head coach Mark Brown has a clear message for his team.

“Just win,” Brown said. “Just win and it’s ours. We have one loss, they have two. If they get us then we share it, but we’re looking to win it outright, so we just have to win and take care of business. Oswego’s a good team and it’s a hostile environment at their place, but we’re confident in our squad, and we’re confident that we’ll go in there and take care of business.”

Lemont hot at the right time

There was a lot of talk coming into this season about how Lemont would handle life after Sage Mardjetko took her talents to South Carolina. The early results weren’t what Lamont was hoping for, but in South Suburban Conference play it has looked looked much more like the team that has won two straight state championships.

Naturally, there were growing pains in early portion of the year as Lemont got out to a 4-4 start. That was followed by a 10-game win streak. While not everything has been smooth of late [Lemont has dropped three of its past four games], it currently sits atop the conference standings at 13-1 in South Suburban play and 18-10 overall. Oak Forrest is second in the conference at 15-2.

It’s been a group effort this year with six players hitting over .400, while Raegan Duncan (15 RBIs, five home runs) and Allison Pawlowicz (16 RBIs, five homers) have consistently made big plays. Sydney Kibbon (3.38 ERA), Rhea Mardjetko (73 strikeouts) and Emma Kaczmarski (4-1) have all combined to get the job done in the circle.

Lemont hopes to wrap up the season with an outright conference championship this week. Either way, Lemont seems to be doing just fine.

The Lincoln-Way (Central)

Speaking of hot stretches, Lincoln-Way Central is on another one.

After starting the year 3-2, the Knights went on a 10-game win streak before dropping back-to-back games. They have since won 13 in a row in which they’ve surrendered only six runs, including six one-run games and seven shutouts. They’ve outscored their opponents 248-55 on the season and are 26-4 overall with a 12-0 record in the Southwest Suburban Conference.

Of course, the focus will be on pitcher Bella Dimitrijevic. The junior is 19-1 with a 0.58 ERA, 10 earned runs allowed on 36 hits, 10 walks and 262 strikeouts. The Florida State commit also is hitting .435 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs. However, head coach Jeff Tarala is quick to point out that it is a true team effort, and he is right.

Josephine Jager is batting .528 with 36 RBIs while three other batters are at .400 or better. Isabella Olmos has five homers on the year with 15 RBIs and a .350 battlng average and is one of nine batters on the team with double-digit RBIs. Freshman Mia Degliomini leads the team with 10 stolen bases, and the team has a fielding percentage of .962 with only 26 errors.

The Knights have three regular-season games left before the postseason, where no team will want to face them.