The Italy Lady Gladiators are rolling toward the softball postseason on a seven-game winning streak thanks in large part to a freshman pitcher.
The most recent win for the Lady Gladiators came Friday evening at home on Teacher Appreciation Night against Avalon, 16-0.
Italy is no stranger to individual or team successes on the diamond though. The Lady Gladiators finished last season with a 20-6 record and returned 11 letterman and six starters from the team that advanced to the second round of the 2A playoffs.
Two of those returners included all-state catcher Alex Jones and all-state infielder Lakota Townley.
Both have appeared in all 19 games for Italy this season and are currently sixth and fourth in hits with 12 and 16, respectively.
Jones is also second on the team in doubles (5) and leads the Lady Gladiators with 24 walks in 65 plate appearances.
The two have combined to drive in 25 runs. Townley leads the team with 26 runs scored.
There is also junior shortstop Sarah Sanders who leads the Lady Gladiators with 19 RBIs, six doubles, three triples and a hefty .609-slugging percentage. She also boasts a .810-fielding percentage with just four errors in 21 chances.
Senior center fielder Taylor Boyd is no slouch at the plate either. She leads Italy with 22 hits in 63 at-bats for a team-best .400 batting average and is scored on the team with 22 runs scored.
And then there is freshman Emily Janek.
Janek has allowed 13 runs from inside the circle over the Lady Gladiators current seven-game winning streak.
She allowed six of those runs in a 12-6 non-district win against Bishop Dunne on Thursday, April 4, while twice shutting out Avalon over that span (15-0, 16-0).
Janek has tossed all but 2.1 of the 97.2 innings played by the Lady Gladiators this season. She has compiled 192 strikeouts to 67 walks and allowed 29 earned runs (75 runs total) on 58 hits.
Janek will very likely carry a sub-3 ERA into the postseason, as she currently sits with a 2.13 ERA over 95.1 IP.
Her stats are not exclusive to the circle, either.
Janek leads the Lady Gladiators with two home runs on the season and carries a .356 batting average with 21 hits in 59 at-bats. She's driven home 15 runs and scored 17 more.
And, yes, she is only a freshman.
Janek, Sanders, Boyd, Jones, Townley and the rest of the Lady Gladiators have the team atop the District 15-2A standings with a 6-0 record. With only three 2A teams in 15-2A, the Lady Gladiators are already assured of the playoff berth,
They weren't, though, guaranteed a district championship. Yet, here we are — Italy is on the cusp of a regular season title.
The Italy Lady Gladiators return to action Tuesday at home for Senior Night.