Softball: Ahearn a hit in middle of Glenbrook North order
Northbrook Thursday 04.19.12. Glenbrook North batter Colleen Ahern (20) swings at a pitch during their game against Maine East on Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Northbrook. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:52AM
Hitting in the heart of a deep and dangerous lineup, Glenbrook North’s Colleen Ahern twice ignited her team’s offense down the stretch as the Spartans’ chance to win a CSL North title seemed to be slipping away.
After Maine West, the eventual conference co-champions who finished 9-1 in the CSL North, took a quick 2-0 lead in the teams’ May 3 game, Ahern responded with two solo home runs — the team’s first and third runs scored — to help rally Glenbrook North back for a 3-2 victory.
Then, in the Spartans’ final conference game, Glenbrook North was tied 1-1 with Niles North before Ahern again sparked a comeback with a leadoff double. She scored the winning run in Glenbrook North’s 2-1 win over the Vikings, a victory which earned the Spartans a share of the CSL North championship.
“I think there’s definitely some pressure,” Ahern said of falling behind Maine West. “You know you have that anxiety. You’re thinking, ‘OK, we lost to them once and we have to come out and play well.’ You do get a little nervous, but it’s kind of like a spark — once someone gets it going, everyone just kind of jumps in.”
To see Ahern step up in such vital situations doesn’t surprise Glenbrook North coach Jenn Mau.
Mau has seen Ahern’s progression as a hitter first-hand. Ahern has proven to be a patient, dangerous hitter to Holy Cross as well. She’ll play softball for the Crusaders after graduating from Glenbrook North.
While her swing has improved over the last four years, Ahern’s desire to succeed at the plate — something which Mau saw in big moments against Niles North and Maine West — has not.
“Colleen is a phenomenal hitter,” Mau said. “She is determined. She gets up there and you can see that look on her face that she’s going to get a hit. She’s going to battle up there, she’s going to fight, she’s going to have good, quality at-bats. She’s been like that since she was a freshman.”
Ahern hit .449 last season for the Spartans. She then spent her summer battling some of the top pitchers in the Midwest and on the East Coast in the attempt to land a Division I scholarship.
This season, Ahern has built upon the success she experienced last season and during the summer. She ended the regular season with a .474 average, collecting six home runs and 25 RBI in 28 games.
“I had a great summer,” Ahern said. “I saw a lot of really great pitchers at some exposure camps I was at. I really learned a lot over the summer. I was just really excited to come into this spring and try to get myself prepared for next season at Holy Cross.”
“She’s going to play Division I at Holy Cross and I couldn’t be happier for her to have that,” Mau said. “It shows her dedication in her offseason, and how many swings she puts in. She came into the program a good hitter, and she’s leaving the program being a phenomenal hitter.”
Glenbrook North earned the No. 2 seed in the Wheeling Regional and was to open against the host school on Tuesday. The championship game is 11 a.m. Saturday.