Record-setting performance for EGF player
After hitting four home runs last season, Kenzie Whalen didn't have a single one through East Grand Forks Senior High's first 10 softball games this season.
"I wasn't getting frustrated,'' the Green Wave senior said. "I was hitting the ball hard. I just had to be patient.''
The patience paid off. Whalen hit her fifth home run in as many games Tuesday, a record-setter as Senior High romped to a 20-3 win against East Grand Forks Sacred Heart.
The home run was the ninth in Whalen's career, as she broke the previous school record of eight career homers set by 2017 graduate Megan Boman. The record "is cool. But I'm just trying to help the team win games,'' said the right-handed hitting Whalen, who hit a 3-run homer over the left-field fence against the Eagles and had six RBI in the win.
After a late start due to the weather and eight games squeezed into a 9-day span to open the season, "it took Kenzie awhile to find her rhythm,'' Senior High coach Heidi Spicer said. "She's always been a power hitter. She hasn't hit home runs (in bunches) like this before. But she always hits the ball hard; even a lot of her outs have been rips.''
Whalen said she has made some adjustments in her swing. "They're working,'' she said with a smile.
Whalen wasn't a one-person offense.
Every batter in the Senior High lineup had at least one hit and scored at least one run. Grace Beck and Nicole Schlenk had four hits each, with Beck getting three doubles and scoring five runs. Whalen had three hits and Macy Skyberg, Brittney Neil and winning pitcher Brianna Walski two each, with Walski driving in four runs on a pair of doubles.
"The top five batters in our lineup have hit consistently, but we haven't always hit all the way through the lineup like this,'' Spicer said.
Sacred Heart totaled five hits, with Lily Zimprich and Ella Walters getting two each. The Eagles committed seven errors, leading to eight Wave unearned runs.
"They (Green Wave) hit the ball hard, and our errors hurt us,'' said Eagles coach Jonathon Vonesh, whose team dropped to 5-8. "We're trying to make plays before we catch the ball. Errors have been a problem.''
Senior High improved to 7-8 and beat Sacred Heart in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005-06. "It's been a long time,'' Spicer said.