WHEATFIELD — It’s been two years since hard thrower Mary Kate Shultz threw a competitive pitch for Kankakee Valley.
A back injury cost Shultz her sophomore season. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic kept Shultz and her teammates off the softball field.
But Shultz looked far from rusty in her return to the pitcher’s circle Tuesday, tossing a two-hitter over 6-plus innings with 18 strikeouts in the Kougars’ 10-1 rout of visiting Kouts.
It was the season opener for both teams. The game was played at the newly-minted Brian Flynn Field at the high school’s KV Sports Complex.
Shultz allowed singles to Des Hall and Emma Roney and walked a batter. The one run was earned.
She got plenty of offensive support, including a 4 for 4 performance from junior Lexi Broyles. The Kougars had 16 hits in all, with Carmen Rosado picking up a triple.
Broyles, Shultz, Carly Basham and JoJo Short had doubles.
Mady Peterson was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, Hayley Alexander was 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs and Broyles had an RBI.
Shultz contributed a pair of hits with an RBI and Short had two hits with two RBIs. Peterson, Basham and Short scored two runs apiece.
The Kougars held a 4-1 lead through three innings before plating five runs in the fourth against Kouts starter Abby O’Donnell.
O’Donnell allowed 16 hits over six innings of work with four walks and eight strikeouts. Nine of the 10 runs scored against her were earned.
The win was the first for new coach Amanda Suarez,. who replaces Brian Flynn. She served as a JV coach at KV the past three seasons.
Flynn is the first coach at KVHS and served in the coach’s box for 26 years.