Gregory looking to drive Woodridge softball forward

Roger Gordon
Correpondent
Woodridge Bulldogs

In the weeks and months leading up to the 2021 season, head coach Dan Schneider was not quite sure how Kendal Gregory would fare with the Woodridge softball team banking on her big time.

The junior pitcher has proven that she can be the driving force for the Bulldogs this season.

“Kendal has shown us that when we give her the ball, she goes to work,” Schneider said. “She’s an easy-going, happy-go-lucky kid, kind of funny, makes you chuckle. On the mound, she’s very serious, though.

“She’s a very coachable kid also and is a leader, and it’s shown especially in the last couple games. She’s stepped it up. She’s taking ownership that we’re counting on her.”

Gregory, in her first season as a starter, got off to a rough start last week in an 18-7 loss at home April 3 to Metro Athletic Conference rival Coventry in a game that was shortened to five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Gregory allowed five runs in the first inning, five more in the second and eight in the fourth.

“I think we had six errors at third base, which didn’t help,” said Schneider. “Kendal didn’t pitch terribly.”

At the plate, Gregory singled and had two RBIs.

On Monday in a 7-1 loss at home to MAC rival Field, Gregory had one bad inning.

In the seventh when she yielded five runs on five hits with a crucial error by one of her teammates that didn’t help matters. She struck out four batters.

“Kendal pitched really well,” Schneider said. “Field came in thinking they were going to mercy us early, but she did a pretty good job of holding them at check for most of the game.

“In the bottom of the sixth, she was at bat with a runner on third with two outs but failed to drive the girl in. She felt she had the chance to knock in the tying run but didn’t. That might’ve affected her on the mound in the top of the seventh. That’s a tough job for a pitcher. If they struggle at the plate, they can’t let it affect them on the mound.”

On Tuesday, Woodridge won 8-4 at conference rival Springfield to improve to 2-4 overall and 2-2 in the MAC.

Gregory gave up just one unearned run. She fanned four and walked only two.

“The first couple games, Kendal got off to slow starts, but against Springfield she held her own,” said Schneider. “Even against Field, which has a pretty potent lineup, she produced several pop ups and strikeouts. She doesn’t throw hard, she just throws things that keep the batters off balance.”

According to her coach, softball is not merely a spring sport for Gregory.

“Kendal pitches all summer,” he said. “She works with a pitching coach, works with her dad a lot. She knew that she was going to be the difference for us this year, so I think she put in a little extra time. She’s also on the basketball team, and basketball season running into softball season can make it tough to get ready for softball. She must have found some time somewhere in there to work in between.”

Gregory has been on the Woodridge Athletic Leadership Council since she was a freshman.

“We knew right away that Kendal is a kid who could contribute not only to her team but to the school,” said Schneider. “She represents Woodridge High School like it should be represented. She’s not the kid who you have to remind to be a good kid. She just is.”