SYCAMORE – Jill Carpenter feels this year's Sycamore softball team is one of the best offensive squads she's had in her tenure as Spartans coach.
In Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader against West Chicago at Sycamore Park, the Spartans made crossing the plate easy.
However, it still wasn't enough, as West Chicago scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat the Spartans, 19-17. The Wildcats' win gave them a split in the doubleheader, as Sycamore won the first game, 8-2.
The Spartans (3-4) committed a number of errors which gave West Chicago (5-5) second chances.
"Our defense has probably been our biggest letdown, which I thought it would have been one of our biggest strengths going into this year," Carpenter said. "We've really struggled. And getting the late jump outside is not an excuse anymore because we've been outside and we've taken hundreds of ground balls.
"It's in people's heads now, not being able to make plays, and that's something we're going to have to keep working through."
Sycamore's offense was on fire all afternoon. The Spartans got inside the park home runs from Taylor Jones and Jasmye Taylor in the second game, and received contributions up and down the lineup. Taylor Zak and Paige Bjork homered for Sycamore in Game 1.
Jones finished 5 for 5 with a grand slam, double and two runs scored hitting out of the No. 7 spot in the order in Game 2.
With the fences real deep on the field at the northeast side of Sycamore Park, Jones parked a ball over West Chicago left fielder Kayla Goffinet's head in the fourth inning. All three runners on base scored easily as the ball rolled to the fence. Jones had home run in her mind from the start, and she rounded the bases without a play.
It was the first home run of Jones' softball career.
"It was just my pitch. It was inside, it was low, I just saw it, I could feel it right off the bat," Jones said. "I was like, 'it's going far.' As I was rounding the bases, I was like 'I'm going to beat this one out, I'm not going to let them take it away from me. I'm going home, I'm going home'. It was awesome. It felt so good."
While the Spartans' offensive output came up short in Game 2, Carpenter feels Sycamore's bats will be key this season.
"It's kept us in games when our defense has let our down and our pitching hasn't exactly been there. It's been our offense that's came through," Carpenter said. "The kids never quit, I'll give them that, but unfortunately we gave one away today."