Winnetka, Sports

Rebuilding New Trier nearly pulls off opening-round stunner. But just wait till next year.

New Trier softball finally got an entire season. And almost a bit more.

After the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 season truncated because the IHSA moved sports around, it had really been three years since the program got to play a “normal” season.

And no one on this year’s roster was on varsity back then.

“We had a lot of kids who didn’t have a ton of experience this year,” New Trier head coach Rose Wysocki said. “None of them had played a full season of high school softball yet. Not a single one.

“Just to look at where we’ve come and the talent we have coming back. … We have both our pitchers back, both our catchers, most of our infield and some new talent that should be good for us as well.”

The players weren’t the only ones going through that first-year transition. Wysocki was hired prior to the 2020 season, so the 2022 season was her first complete season as well.

“It’s completely different since I took over,” she said. “From Day 1, the kids are different, our approach, attitude and culture we’re trying to build is different. We’ve made some really solid strides.

“Look around and you see the girls care. We’re trying to build a culture of caring. One of the girls said ‘I’m sad that we lost, but I’m more sad that the season is over.’ They just care deeply about the game, each other and being good people. That’s the culture we’re trying to build.”

With 12 of the 14 players on the roster returning next year, the No. 13 Trevians showcased what their fans can expect in the future when they battled No. 2 Hersey Huskies to the brink in an IHSA Class 4A regional game Tuesday, May 24, at Duke Childs Field.

Time after time, New Trier fought back, even scrapping to take a 5-3 lead late, but the Trevians would eventually fall in nine innings, 6-5, on a walk-off wild pitch, to end their season.

“This is a different team than what we started the season with,” Wysocki said. “We’ve been battling back all year and obviously we just went nine innings with the No. 2 seed.

“I’m really proud of the girls and the strides they made. It’s one of the worst ways to lose, but also one of the best because they’ve done such a great job.”

Wysocki, who felt as if the team may have been underseeded after a 9-11-1 regular season, had to be happy with how her defense stepped up on the big stage.

In the bottom of the third inning, after the first two Hersey hitters got on base, the Huskies Sabrina Divito notched an extra-base hit to right field. One run scored, but a strong relay from Avery Donaldson to Emilia Orta to catcher Luciana Orta cut down the second runner at the plate.

All three players will return next season for the Trevs.

Courtney Schumacher, one of the two New Trier seniors, was the offensive star on the night, driving in two runs in the top of the fifth to give the Trevians a lead and scoring after a double in the top of the ninth gave the Trevians another lead.

Unfortunately for New Trier, Hersey would get the first three batters — and four of the first five — on base in the bottom of the ninth, eventually scoring the winning run on a pitch that got to the backstop.

Even with the loss, Wysocki is happy with how her team grew from the first day of practice through the end of the season.

“The kids have just bonded,” she said. “They’re a great group of kids, have each other’s backs, hang out together, they’re always doing things together and that helps bring levity to a game that can be tense. They’re genuinely a great group of people and have become a great group of softball players as well.”

Michael Wojtychiw

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