The return of junior pitcher Danielle Polirer led to an exciting playoff week for the Kennedy softball team. After missing time due to injury in recent weeks, Polirer guided the Lady Cougars to a 5-1 win over Division in their playoff opener on May 10, and nearly carried her club to an upset victory over Island Trees last Friday.
“Pretty much everything was working for Danielle,” Kennedy head coach Krista Thorn said. “She’s the type of kid that is going to give you everything she has, and will try to make adjustments along the way. She wants to do well for her team in the circle, and is the kind of pitcher you want to play behind.”
In the Lady Cougars’ first-round postseason matchup against the Lady Blue Dragons, Polirer impressed, going a full seven innings and giving up just one run.
“My pitcher was excellent,” Thorn said. “She came back from an injury that she’s been suffering from the last three weeks or so. That was her first real seven-inning game since returning. She also had two RBIs in the game, after not swinging the bat for a while.”
Junior Amanda Malandruccolo also stepped up in a big way for Kennedy in its win, going 3-for-3 on the day.
“Amanda had a fantastic game,” Thorn said. “She really came alive for us and was seeing the ball well. The two practices before the game she was hitting the ball well. I had a really good feeling that would carry over into the game on Wednesday, and it did.”
After inconsistent team play during the regular season, the Lady Cougars were firing on all cylinders in their playoff opener.
“We played solid defense, there was fantastic communication and the girls were really into the game,” Thorn said. “Everybody was talking, and that led to a lot of confidence on the field. We hit their pitcher pretty well. It was an all-around good feeling kind of game.”
Two days later, in its quarterfinal matchup against Island Trees, Kennedy suffered a 3-1 season ending defeat.
“We had one bad inning,” Thorn said. “According to the girls, this is the furthest they’ve ever gone. I think they were dealing with a little bit of nerves. We made four errors that game and just couldn’t come back. When you get to that point against the kind of team we were playing, you can’t give them an inch, otherwise they’re going to take a mile and run with it. Danielle did an excellent job that day, but we just couldn’t get runs across the plate.”
While Friday provided a disappointing finish to the Lady Cougars 2017 season, Thorn hopes the experience will be beneficial for her players moving forward.”
“This will absolutely help them,” she said. “They know now what it feels like to play in that kind of game. This was my first year with them, and moving forward I’m going to be putting them in a lot more pressure situations. We’re going to get more non-league games and scrimmages in next year.”