Judging by how calm and collected Glenbrook South (23-10) looked on Thursday, you couldn’t tell it was the school’s biggest softball game in 10 years.
Playing composed – but still confident – Glenbrook South capitalized on a number of Glenbrook North errors and Mykenzie Buzard had five RBIs helping the Titans to an 8-1 victory in the IHSA Class 4A Winnetka Sectional semifinals.
Glenbrook South will play New Trier on Saturday in Winnetka for the sectional championship.
“I think being relaxed is key here in the postseason, just being relaxed, having fun,” Glenbrook South's Kay Sopocy said. “The one thing about this team is they are really a unit. I’ve had a lot of good teams, but the way they work together, they rely on each other.”
Things started off shaky for the Skokie Regional champions. Pitcher Jen Zucker walked two of the first three batters, but got out of the first inning with a strikeout and groundball to the shortstop.
After scoring 27 runs in its first two playoff games, Glenbrook South’s offense picked up right where it left off. Julia Williams was hit by a pitch and Maddy Stark reached on an error to put runners on second and third. With two outs, Buzard lined a two-run single off Glenbrook Norht pitcher Ashley Gruenberg into left field to put the Titans up 2-0.
“I was just relaxing and making sure I stay confident and just drive the ball, get the runners in,” Buzard said of her approach at the plate.
Two innings later, it would be Buzard who would again come up with the big hit. Janet Schwartz reached on an error by Glenbrook North’s second baseman and Stark and Kim Lohre followed with walks to load the bases. Buzard crushed Gruenberg’s 0-1 offering off the centerfield wall for a single, scoring all three runners.
The Titans tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning, more than enough for Zucker, who settled down after a rough first inning. The junior right-hander – who made her second start after coming back from a 10-day layoff with elbow tendinitis – allowed only five hits and struck out 10 batters in seven innings.
“She had a rest and she’s just come back with a vengeance,” Sopocy said of Zucker. “She takes care of business on the mound and keeps moving the ball around. She has a real presence and command when she’s out there.”
Buzard added a single in the sixth inning to complete a 3-for-3 day at the plate. Alyssa Strapko and Stark had Glenbrook South’s other two hits, both singles.
Glenbrook North scored its only run on an RBI single with two outs by Jenny McTague in the seventh inning. The Spartans had four errors on the day.
The Trevians beat Glenbrook South, 4-2, in nine innings at Glenbrook South in late April and by the score of 3-1 at home in early May. Zucker will pitch against New Trier ace Brigit Ieuter on Saturday.
“We’re not going to treat it any different,” Buzard said. “Yeah, they beat us twice but the third time is the charm so we’re going to beat them.”