Things come together for Pauly, Carmel
Carmel's Kelley Dodge (top) gets a lift from Nicole Bitter after her walkoff basehit gave the Corsairs a 9-8 win over McHenry in last week's Class 4A sectional semifinal at Cary-Grove High School. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 8, 2012 6:37PM
Carmel Catholic sophomore Erin Pauly, who sometimes bounces on a trampoline in her backyard, had an up-down-up kind of season for the school’s softball team.
She began the season as a varsity left-handed slap hitter. After a difficult month at the plate, she got sent down to the JV squad to regain some confidence – as a right-handed hitter. Corsairs coach Jason Raymond then promoted her to varsity at the start of the postseason in late May.
“She stayed ready,” said Raymond after Carmel’s impressive postseason run ended Saturday with a 7-0 loss to Jacobs in the Class 4A Cary-Grove sectional final.
“Erin,” he added, “showed a lot of character.”
Pauly, batting seventh as Carmel’s designated player, was the only Corsair to get more than one hit against Jacobs senior ace Katie Kirker. She finished 2-for-3. Her lead-off single in the top the seventh inning wound up being Carmel’s final hit of 2012.
Pauly started enjoying success years ago as a right-handed hitter. But last summer she was encouraged, because of her speed, to wield a bat as a lefty slapper for the Lake County Freedom travel team.
“Maybe I’ll try to do that again this summer,” said Pauly, one of 12 underclassmen on Carmel’s 18-player playoff roster.
Pauly plans to hit that trampoline at least a few more times this summer. It’s a good way to train for a gymnast, and she’s thinking of returning to gymnastics. Pauly developed as a competitive gymnast at Gurnee-based Ultimate Gymnastics.
She’s also a theater buff. Between boinging and bunts in the next few months, Pauly intends to take voice lessons to make sure she’s ready to perform in Carmel musicals as a junior.
The penultimate act of Carmel’s lengthy postseason show resulted in a highly entertaining 9-8 defeat of McHenry in a C-G sectional semifinal May 30. McHenry’s Warriors had entered the game with a 24-3 record; Carmel was 18-18.
Raymond’s girls of spring trailed McHenry 8-5 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Corsairs junior catcher Sklyer Zak reached on an infield error to open the inning before freshman Sam Melillo tapped a bunt for a single. Senior Kelley Dodge then loaded the bases with an infield single.
A fielder’s choice off the bat of sophomore shortstop Kathleen Felicelli made it 8-6. After a walk to Carmel senior first baseman Sally Snarski, sophomore second baseman Amy Abel ripped a two-run single over shortstop Alexa McClaughry to knot it at 8-8.
Dodge (4-for-5, two RBI), with Zak on third base, was clutch in the seventh inning, giving Carmel a walk-off victory with a run-scoring single between short and third base. Zak had singled up the middle, moved to second base on a Melillo sac bunt and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Corsairs starting pitcher Nicole Bitter, another sophomore, got the win after reentering the game as a relief pitcher with one out in the top of the seventh inning. Junior Erika Schoenfeld didn’t allow a run in 2 1/3 innings as the Bitter-to-Bitter bridge.
Carmel’s other RBI came from Pauly, Snarski, Zak and freshman third baseman Jenny Behan.
“Playing in the ESCC prepared us well for the postseason,” Raymond said when his club’s 19-18 record was brought up. “We saw different styles of play and good pitching. The conference was tough this spring, top to bottom. We were battle-tested.”
Carmel didn’t pass its challenging exam against Jacobs’ Kirker on Saturday. The senior tossed her third straight postseason shutout, allowing five hits and fanning eight. She hit two batters but walked none.
Senior left fielder Madeline Felipez struck the only extra-base hit (double) for Carmel (19-19).