Softball: Tinley Park’s Lauren Buckwalter making an impression
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org April 16, 2014 8:46PM
Ashley Galason, of Reavis | File photo
Updated: May 19, 2014 1:25PM
Replacing her bat remains a work in progress.
When it comes to toughness, though, Tinley Park’s Lauren Buckwalter already has proved her mettle in stepping into the shoes of Titans shortstop Alyssa Gunther.
In the seventh inning Friday against T.F. South, Buckwalter was making a play on a sharply hit grounder when the ball took a bad bounce and rocketed into her forehead.
She went down for a few breathtaking seconds. By the time Titans coach Wendy Podbielniak had raced to her side from the dugout, Buckwalter was shaking it off and proclaiming she was good go to.
“I just tried to stay in front of it,” Buckwalter said afterward, sporting a bump above her right eye. “If it hits me and stays in front, that’s the good part. I’m just trying to get the ball to the first baseman.”
Gunther, a freshman at Illinois, put up astounding numbers for Tinley Park in 2013, batting .554 with seven triples, four home runs and 39 stolen bases. She was the South Suburban Blue Player of the Year.
“We knew replacing a kid like Gunther was not going to be easy but we also knew what kind of talent we had in Lauren,” Podbielniak said. “We are not going to replace Gunther’s speed, but Buckwalter’s arm is very special.”
Buckwalter turned in a highlight-reel play April 7 against Oak Lawn, making an over-the-shoulder catch on a pop fly to left field, twirling around and doubling the runner off first base.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Buckwalter said of her starting role with the Titans. “I played behind ‘Gunny’ last year and I learned a lot from her. She’s a great player and has a great attitude on the field. I really look up to her.
Crete-Monee coach Sue Giannantonio is in her 29th and final season. She is retiring as a physical education teacher at the school.
Giannantonio entered the season with a 459-344-3 career record.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “I’m still going strong and I still enjoy doing what I do, teaching (physical education) and coaching.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do after I retire. I’ll come back and help whoever takes over if they want me and do what I can do for the school. I still cook at the football games, so I’m sure they’ll let me do that.”
Player of the Week
Ashley Galason, of Reavis, is the SouthtownStar Softball Player of the Week.
Galason, a sophomore third baseman, was 8-for-11 with two doubles, three triples, nine runs and eight RBI as Reavis went 4-0 for the week.