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Sports

Lauren Luna, Saints’ bats off to grand start

St. Charles East junior hails from a family of baseball-playing athletes

St. Charles East first baseman Lauren Luna gets an out during a game at Geneva on April 27, 2018. Luna, who slugged a grand slam in St. Charles East's win over Downers Grove South, is one of the Saints' leading hitters this season.
St. Charles East first baseman Lauren Luna gets an out during a game at Geneva on April 27, 2018. Luna, who slugged a grand slam in St. Charles East's win over Downers Grove South, is one of the Saints' leading hitters this season.

Lauren Luna is right on track.

The St. Charles East junior hails from a family of athletes.

Luna said numerous family members have played at various levels in baseball. Her dad played collegiately at Illinois. An uncle was a member of the Kansas City Royals organization.

Luna, a first baseman, is motivated to add her name to the family’s list of athletic achievements.

“Growing up, I was always around the game,” Luna said. “It’s never been pressure to me to follow my family [members]. I’ve always loved the game and just play. My mindset is be focused all the time because I want to play in college. That’s pretty much all I want to do.”

Since starting travel softball eight years ago, Luna has been a natural belting balls all over the field. Through 10 games, Luna is on track to put up some prodigious offensive numbers. She’s hitting .516 with team highs of four home runs and 18 RBIs to lead the Saints to eight wins. 

Luna smacked a grand slam in a 5-3 victory April 9 at powerhouse Downers Grove South.

Luna said she can’t recall the last time she hit a grand slam.

“That [grand slam] felt pretty good,” she said. “I just wanted to get a base hit. I wasn’t looking to do anything special. I just wanted to make contact. I was pretty excited about it. I’ve watched it over and over.”

Luna credits her early season hitting outburst to working on her swing on a daily basis at home with her Bownet portable hitting net. St. Charles East coach Jarod Gutesha said Luna’s big bat fits in well with a team that returns 10 players with varsity experience from last season’s 25-win Class 4A regional champs. Luna started attending St. Charles East’s softball camps when she was “8 or 9 years old” Gutesha said.

“Lauren has been hitting the heck out of the ball,” he said. “Last year, she did well, but wasn’t as consistent as this year. She’s a kid that not many pitchers are going to put the ball by her. She’s really put in the time and is super dedicated to the game. She’s always a player who enjoys the game and just has gotten better and better.”

Maddy Stout is another player off to a fast start for the Saints. The senior center fielder had two highlight-reel plays in the sixth inning against the Mustangs. She had a leaping catch in deep center, then added a diving grab. Stout also added two hits in four plate appearances to raise her season average to .429. She has a .444 on-base percentage.

“I’ve been really excited to play center field this year, something I’ve been dreaming about since my freshman year,” Stout said. 

Gutesha said Stout’s defense and improved hitting is another element that will make the Saints a tough team to beat in the playoffs.

“Maddy has been hitting the ball well and steadily getting on base,” he said. “She had some huge defensive plays against Downers Grove South. She’s really taken charge in the outfield.”

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