BLOOMINGTON — Tuesday's season opener for Normal West High School's softball team was only the second day the Wildcats had been outside this spring.
The first was Monday's practice.
"Coming into today I didn't really know how I was feeling," said West sophomore second baseman Kacie Quick. "The first at-bat, I got hit. That didn't feel so good. But once we started going it felt good."
Quick and her teammates were able to hit well inside during practices. They showed they could hit outside, too. Quick had three of West's 14 hits and drove in three runs as the Wildcats rallied to turn back Central Catholic, 8-5, in a nonconference game at McGraw Park.
"We've been working really hard since we've been inside for three weeks. Hitting is one of those areas that we know we can work on inside," said West coach April Schermann. "I thought Bailey Coffman threw a good game against us. Our hitters had good timing today."
Quick, senior Jess Jacobs and sophomore Lindsay Rogers hit solo homers for the Wildcats with the wind blowing out. Cassie Sprout also had three hits.
While Central Catholic (4-2) had the advantage of playing five games, Rogers thought it took the Wildcats "a couple innings to get some rust off."
"We've built a lot of confidence over these last couple practices, so I felt like we were ready for today," said Rogers.
The Saints used a two-run homer by Kayla Stenger in the first and two more runs in the second off sophomore Rylee McGonigle to take a 4-1 lead. Homers by Quick and Jacobs in the third cut the deficit to 4-3.
Rogers led off the fourth with another homer to tie the game. Quick's one-out single scored freshman Landes Benedict before Quick came home on Dyson's single for a 6-4 lead.
Bailey Turner took over for McGonigle in the fourth and Charlie Sartoris greeted her with a solo homer. But the Saints only got one more hit the rest of the way as Turner struck out four and retired 10 straight batters at one point.
"If one pitcher's stuff is not working, we have someone else who has her back," said Schermann. "We're confident in either of our pitchers."
West got two insurance runs in the sixth on Quick's double and Dyson's squeeze bunt.
The Wildcats' hitting prowess in their opener didn't surprise Quick.
"We knew to trust our practices. Even though it was only our second day outside, we trusted what coach was going to do and trusted in ourselves," she said. "Mentally we stayed in the game and performed."
Coffman (2-2) went the distance for the Saints. She walked two and struck out five. Stenger had three of the Saints' six hits, while Sartoris added a pair.
Central coach Jeff Schade figures games against a quality Class 4A school such as West will help the 2A Saints come postseason time.
"They're professional from the time they get off the bus to the time they leave," he said. "We've got some veterans and also some young kids who have to learn that kind of thing. There were some plays out there that we didn't make, and that was the difference. We'll get better."