MERRILLVILLE | Maybe it was the freezing wind blowing straight into her face. Or maybe one of her Andrean 59ers cracked a joke when she was in the middle of the circle.
Something happened, though, on Wednesday afternoon at Andrean that was out of the ordinary. Junior pitcher Brenna Boyle actually cracked a smile in her team's Northwest Crossroads Conference game against Times No. 7 Lowell.
"It looked like she was actually enjoying pitching," Andrean coach Brooke Baker-Runyon said after Andrean beat the Red Devils 5-1.
Boyle, who played shortstop on last year's Class 3A state championship team and will likely play the same position at Valparaiso University in two years, kept a good-hitting Lowell (7-4, 3-3) team off balanced.
"Brenna will do whatever the team needs," Baker-Runyon said. "We need her to pitch, so that's what she does. And it helps because she's pretty good at it."
"I'm starting to like it now," said Boyle, who struck out six and only allowed four hits. "It's not as bad as I thought it would be."
The game was scheduled to be played at Lowell, was cancelled early on Wednesday and then moved to Andrean because the Red Devils' field was under water.
Despite playing on its home field, Andrean (4-3, 4-3) was the visiting team. The 59ers scored three runs in the top of the first inning when two walks and a hit set up Cat Murad's two-run single.
The 'Niners, winners of three straight with five freshmen starting, scored two more in the fourth inning on Hannah Kulesa's two-run single.
Murad did not play in the first Lowell game, which the Devils won. She was anxious to swing the bat in the opening inning.
"I really wanted to get a hit," Murad said. "I was very happy to help my team since I didn't play last time."
Lowell starter Brooke Cummins struggled in the first and fourth innings. The two walks didn't make coach Pete Iussig happy.
"You can't walk two batters in the first inning," Iussig said. "We need her to pitch better than that."
Andrean then had four straight hits to open the fourth before Brandi Faverty entered the game and retired all 12 batters she faced.
"It was a rough start," Iussig said, "then everyone got down. We made some noise in the last inning but you can't start playing right before the game is over."