Home News Bridget Chapman, Benet win regional semifinal

Bridget Chapman, Benet win regional semifinal

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It was hard for anyone to choose which one of the numerous great plays Benet senior third baseman Bridget Chapman made Tuesday was the best.

But everyone could agree on the most important.

Senior pitcher Alex O’Rourke was in need of a pick-me-up after giving up five straight hits during the top of the first inning in a Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional semifinal. The underdog Red Devils led 2-0 and had the bases loaded with one out when a grounder was hit to third. Chapman threw home to senior catcher Grace Babich, who relayed to junior first baseman Marikate Ritterbusch for an inning-ending 5-2-3 double play.

“Absolutely huge is the only way to describe it,” O’Rourke said. “Bridget Chapman is a key player on our team and always comes up with the big plays. She was able to get me out of that inning, and with her home run and her other great hits, she was able to pick me up. Because of my defense and my catcher, Grace, we were able to win today.”

Indeed, O’Rourke allowed just four hits the rest of the way, and the second-seeded Redwings scored 11 unanswered runs to roll past the 14th-seeded Red Devils 11-2.

The double play provided a confidence boost for Benet (21-6), which will play either seventh-seeded Willowbrook or 10th-seeded Oak Lawn in the regional final at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

“It definitely did,” Chapman said. “This team was a little bit down, so having a big play right there was good for us.”

Chapman didn’t hesitate to throw home.

“It definitely wasn’t hit super hard, but I knew I had it coming straight on, so I knew I wanted to go straight to Grace,” she said. “I knew she also had an arm and was going to be able to get the runner out at first.”

Benet's Bridget Chapman belts a home run during a Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional semifinal game against Hinsdale Central on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Hinsdale.(Jon Cunningham/for The Naperville Sun)
Benet’s Bridget Chapman hits a home run during a Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional semifinal against the host Red Devils on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Jon Cunningham / Naperville Sun)

The Redwings have won 20 of their past 22 games, fueled by a powerful offense led by Babich, Chapman and UIC-bound senior center fielder Nina Pesare, who came up a home run shy of the cycle on Tuesday.

Pesare’s bunt single, which traveled 2 feet, started a three-run rally in the bottom of the first that Chapman capped with a two-run double to center. The Redwings added one run in the second, two in each of the fourth and fifth, and three in the sixth.

Chapman lacked only a triple to complete the cycle, finishing 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a massive home run to center that cut through the teeth of a whipping wind leading off the fifth. It was her fifth homer of the season but not, she claimed, her best one.

“It was definitely hit hard but not the hardest one,” she said. “I hit a harder one against Viator this year.

“I wasn’t expecting much. I knew I was seeing her pitches well, so I just wanted to see what I could get out of it.”

Benet pitcher Alexandra O'Rourke delivers to Hinsdale Central batter during a Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional semifinal game on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Hinsdale.(Jon Cunningham/for The Naperville Sun)
Benet’s Alex O’Rourke pitches against Hinsdale Central during a Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional semifinal on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Jon Cunningham / Naperville Sun)

O’Rourke (8-2) said Chapman, who is hitting .414 with 31 RBIs, gets great results because of her work ethic.

“Bridget has been strong in the weight room, at every practice, giving it her all,” O’Rourke said. “That (homer) was just a symptom of all of her work. Bridget is such a hard worker and one of my greatest friends. I’m so excited for her, and I’m so excited to keep rolling in the playoffs.”

Despite their promising start, the Red Devils (8-18) got rolled, in part because Benet played flawless defense.

Chapman did her part, finishing with five assists, one of which came when she charged a bunt. She also raced toward home plate to catch a pop-up to end the game.

“I think I’ve definitely improved in my defense,” she said. “I’ve been a lot cleaner this year. My hitting has been kind of off and on, but definitely defense has been my strong suit.”

Bridget Chapman (right) is greeted by Benet teammates as she arrives to score after hitting a home run during a Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional semifinal game against Hinsdale Central on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Hinsdale.(Jon Cunningham/for The Naperville Sun)
Benet’s Bridget Chapman, right, is greeted by teammates as she heads home after hitting a home run during a Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional semifinal against the host Red Devils on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Jon Cunningham / Naperville Sun)

That was contagious against the Red Devils, who gave the Redwings a bit of a wake-up call. Chapman, who plans to study nursing and likely will not play softball in college, isn’t ready for the season to end.

“After they started getting going, we were a little bit down, but we talked it out with each other, and all was well,” she said. “We definitely have to get more serious, make sure we’re locked in the whole time, because we can’t take anyone lightly from here on out.”

Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter.



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