Aurora Central Catholic transfer Brooklyn Marks steps into spotlight for Sandwich. ‘So far, it’s been really good.’

Brooklyn Marks wasn’t dissatisfied, but coming home for school at Sandwich just felt better.

Marks, a junior pitcher/shortstop, made contributions on the varsity as a freshman at Aurora Central Catholic and then did more of the same last season with the Indians after her transfer.

She’s one of several emerging standouts for a program experiencing an uptick.

“We’ve been building this little by little,” said Mattie McGuire, who’s in her ninth season as Sandwich’s coach. “I think the consistency of the coaching staff helps. Cortney Bols played for me my first year and now is one of my coaches, along with Becky Cassie, wife of our football coach Kris and president of our booster club.

“The community feel has really helped elevate us.”

Marks continued to elevate her game Friday afternoon, delivering a strong outing in an 8-1 win over Johnsburg for the Indians, who avenged last year’s 3-2 loss in a Class 2A regional final.

Johnsburg is a new Kishwaukee River rival as the Indians are playing in their third conference in McGuire’s tenure.

Sandwich (9-2, 3-1) played games on six straight days last week, winning five to move into the Aurora-Elgin area softball rankings.

Pitching in a gusty crosswind, Marks fired a three-hitter Friday with six walks and 10 strikeouts.

“It made me off balance a little bit at times,” Marks said of the wind. “But it wasn’t too challenging. I didn’t mind it at all.”

Marks received two-hit, two-RBI support from junior second baseman Aubrey Cyr and senior third baseman Johanna Freemon, plus a two-run triple from senior outfielder Peyton Dudzik.

Often attacking pitches early in the count, the Indians didn’t strike out and didn’t walk in the game.

“That aggressiveness is something we’ve been working on this week,” McGuire said. “We faced two good pitchers back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday and that was hard on us, a struggle to catch up and read it for ball on bat contact. By Thursday and Friday, our bats were just flying.”

And Marks kept the Skyhawks in check.

“I throw a screwball, curve, drop, change and rise, and I felt my screwball was on and so was my curve,” Marks said. “Sometimes, it would jump.”

Marks is tutored individually by St. Charles-based Jill Waldron.

“She’s very good, gives us a lot of drills and feedback,” Marks said. “She’s very educated and always knows what you’re doing wrong if you’re having a problem. She’s a very good coach.”

Maintaining mechanics with steady leg drive have been Marks’ priority.

“It involves my leg kick,” she said. “If I jump out too far, I can lose a lot of power when I do that.”

Marks (3-1) and Cyr (4-1) anchor the top spots in the rotation on a pitching staff that has also had strong outings from Dudzik (2-0).

“I think the new conference is good,” Marks said. “It’s good to play some new competition, and so far, it’s been really good. We’re playing teams more our size and level.”

Two dates with McGuire’s alma mater Marengo, the conference favorite, remain on the schedule.

Freemon leads Sandwich with a .462 batting average, along with two home runs and a team-high 18 RBIs. Cyr has driven in 10 runs, followed by Marks with nine.

A week earlier, Sandwich topped Morris 3-1 as Marks threw another three-hitter with nine strikeouts. She’s struck out 49 in 30 innings with a 0.93 ERA. Cyr has 31 strikeouts in 30 innings and a 1.40 ERA.

“Morris isn’t in our conference anymore, but we haven’t won against them in years,” Freemon said. “We all want more. We’re all hungry for it. There’s more of like a bite to it than previous years.

“We all want to play and we’re going for it. I think we’re going further this year than we have been.”