Marist was down to its last six outs.
The RedHawks trailed Sandburg 5-3 after the Eagles erupted for a five-spot in the top of the sixth inning in Friday’s Class 4A softball sectional semifinal in Orland Park. After Sandburg’s Sarah Herold smacked a three-run homer off the scoreboard in left field, there was every reason for gloom and doom to spread like wildfire in the Marist dugout.
Heck, Herold hit the ball so hard she momentarily knocked out the power on the scoreboard. You’d think the power in the RedHawks’ bats might have been drained, too.
Two reasons: Denise Bromberek’s upbeat coaching philosophy and Brooke Wyderski’s never-say-never approach to hitting. As much as anything else, her willpower was the catalyst in .
“At that point, it’s up to them,” Bromberek said. “There’s nothing that I can say that’s going to physically or mentally change it. We just kept a positive attitude. We knew if we got opportunities to hit—which we had a couple more innings to hit—that we would be OK.
“And Brooke Wyderski answered to that. So, that was fantastic.”
Wyderski, batting with one on and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, connected for a two-run homer that tied the score 5-5. She hit a 3-0 pitch from Sandburg ace Amanda Barna that was up—but not so far up in the strike zone that Wyderski couldn’t get around on it.
Her missile exited the yard in lickety-split fashion. She later singled and scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. She finished with three hits in four at-bats, including a triple, scored three runs and drove in three more. The game-tying homer was her 10th of the season.
“I was just looking for my pitch,” Wyderski said. “I knew the count was 3-0. I was waiting for the perfect pitch. I thought it was a good pitch. So, I swung.”
Nothing to it.
And, to think, Wyderski is a sophomore only just now beginning to scratch the surface of her enormous potential.
“Amanda (Barna) was six outs away from getting it done,” Sandburg coach Jim Fabianski said. “That girl, Brooke (Wyderski), you know what, you could just read it on her face today. She wanted it. She really, really wanted to dig deep.
“And she was not going to allow those two runs to make the difference in the game. That’s really a tribute to her.”
Wyderski plays shortstop for the RedHawks (23-15) and plays the role of a one-girl wrecking crew on occasion, too. The ball jumps off her bat.
“She’s an extremely talented athlete,” Bromberek said. “She has a heart of gold for this sport. She works her face off every single day. So, I couldn’t be happier for her to hit the ball like that.”
Bromberek has watched Wyderski raise her level of play in the two years that have elapsed since she first cracked the Marist starting lineup as a freshman. Then, she played third base, hit nearly .500 and cranked out a double-digit home run total that was awe-inspiring in the RedHawk camp.
“As another faculty member at Marist put it, she had Nintendo-like game stats,” Bromberek said. “This year, they’re right on that same pace. They are. She’s very competitive. She wants it just as much as the entire team, if not more.”
Bromberek moved Wyderski to shortstop to solidify the RedHawks’ infield. She was in on two double plays against Sandburg.
“She has a lot of range, covers a lot of ground, if you haven’t noticed,” Bromberek said. “And, as a sophomore, she’s giving us a little more leadership. She’s another year older. She can handle it.”
Wyderski thinks she can handle just about anything—including a pitch up in her eyes or a rematch with arch-rival Mother McAuley in the championship game of the Class 4A Sandburg Sectional. The two meet at 11 a.m. today in Orland Park.
The RedHawks defeated the Mighty Macs 6-4 in regular-season play.
Her positive outlook is a direct reflection of her coach’s teachings. Smile and the sun will come up tomorrow.
“We’re what? Less than 5 minutes away from each other,” Bromberek said. “It’s going to be a great game. The fans. The energy. The support. It’s going to be fantastic. And we’re excited to be in this situation.”
Know this: They're in it because of Wyderski.