Julianne Rurka, of Benet, connects for a two run double against Marist at Marist, Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 in Chicago. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 5, 2014 5:07PM
For anybody looking to watch NCAA Division I softball talent Saturday, the place to be was Chicago, where Benet took on Marist in East Suburban Catholic Conference action.
None of the talent disappointed. Benet’s firepower, however, was a little too much for Marist as the Redwings pulled out a 5-2, 10-8 conference sweep.
The games featured five home runs, two by the Redwings (18-1, 8-0) — raising their season total to 43, now 17 shy of the state record.
“Two great teams,” said Benet coach Jerry Schilf, who was showered with silly string by his players after the second game for recording his 350th career win. “That was the toughest challenge we faced so far.”
Providence recruit Julianne Rurka had a double, a home run and three RBI to lead Benet in Game 1. The Redwings scored four runs in the top of the third to lead 4-1. That answered an RBI double by Tennessee-Martin recruit Alexis Rogers for the Redhawks (15-6, 7-3).
Loyola recruit Brooke Wyderski closed the gap to 4-2 in the fourth with a leadoff home run to left. Rurka answered three innings later with a solo shot. Molly Moran retired three of the four batters she faced in the seventh to record the Game 1 win.
“They are all great players,” Marist coach Denise Bromberek said.
More of them were on display in Game 2. The biggest buzz came from the performance of James Madison recruit Madison Naujokas, who hit a pair of three-run home runs to keep Marist within striking distance.
The second homer was a tape-measure shot that pulled the Redhawks to within 8-6. Several estimates concluded it was every bit of 300 feet, hitting the bottom of the boys baseball fence.
“The first game was a little rough for me, not doing my best,” said Naujokas, who went 0-for-3 in Game 1. “I knew I had to come out in the next game and hit and come out strong for my team.”
The Redwings’ eight-run third was the difference in Game 2. The inning was highlighted by a two-out grand slam on a 3-and-2 count by Northwestern recruit Marissa Panko.
“We knew we had to come out ready to play and this feels good to get two wins,” Panko said. “On that home run I was just looking to make contact. I was not going to strike out.”
Rurka and York had two hits in Game 1, while Naujokas, Wyderski, Rogers, Panko, Rurka and York all had two hits in Game 2. Megan Stoppelman was 3-for-3 in the nightcap for the Redwings.
York earned the win in the circle.