Chloe Ricard rockets up charts behind plate for South Elgin. And there’s more. ‘Love giving back to the game.’

Junior catcher Chloe Ricard does more than just handle the pitching staff for South Elgin.

But when it comes to her working with junior left-hander Anna Kiel, that’s a pretty good place to start for the Storm. And it led to a day for both of them to remember Monday afternoon.

“Just her presence behind the dish brings a lot to the table,” South Elgin coach Brad Reynard said. “We love Chloe’s all-around game. I’ve even been letting her call some of the pitches, too.

“She’s got a good feeling for a lot of our rotation and has been doing a great job with Anna — really developed that connection.”

Kiel kept it going against Larkin, retiring the first nine batters she faced on strikeouts and pitching her first no-hitter of the season in a 10-0 Upstate Eight Conference victory in five innings.

Already this season, Kiel had thrown a one-hitter and a pair of two-hitters to Ricard for South Elgin (13-7, 8-0). This time, she was on fire as the Storm sealed their hold on first place in conference.

“It may be in the back of your mind, but I didn’t really realize it,” Kiel said of the no-hitter. ”It didn’t really matter to me.”

Focusing on the next hitter did as the Loyola recruit finished with 11 strikeouts and came one hit batter away from a perfect game.

Senior outfielder Brynn Kerber was hit by a pitch on the elbow with two outs in the fourth inning and ended up being the only baserunner for Larkin (8-9, 5-3).

Ricard, meanwhile, provided Kiel all the support she would need with a pair of RBI doubles that went to the fence in the right-center power alley. Freshman second baseman Adreana Hauser added three RBIs with a triple and sacrifice fly.

Kiel (9-5), who lowered her ERA to 2.14, now has 103 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings.

“Once you get to two strikes, you can mix it up and throw chase pitches,” Kiel said. “If they don’t chase, I just go back to hitting the zone.

“I was just throwing my regular spins, curveball inside and outside, screwball and a change-up that’s come a long way this season for a chase. Then, a riseball to set up a pitch or two.”

Kiel shared with Ricard the team’s Hard Hat Award, presented after each win by the coaches to the player or players who made an impact.

“It’s good,” Kiel said of her work with Ricard. “She’s like a wall. She doesn’t let pitches go past.

“I trust her calling pitches, too. Even if I don’t like something and shake her off, she’ll most likely know what I want to throw. It’s good to be on the same page.”

Ricard said one-on-one training with former Kaneland coach Mike Kuefler since she was 12 has done a lot to improve her performance behind the plate.

“He’s one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever worked with,” she said of the Elburn-based Kuefler. “I’ve seen such improvement both physically and mentally.”

Ricard has even taken it a step further, renting space from Kuefler at his facility and offering lessons herself to young catchers.

“I love teaching what I feel I do well and love giving back to the game,” said Ricard, an only child who got into the sport through a community program and was encouraged by neighbor Maya Brito, a South Elgin graduate who’s playing in the outfield for Waubonsee Community College.

“Great kid, hard-nosed,” Kuefler said of Ricard. “She works the zone really well back there and does a nice job.”

Reynard likens that to her effort on offense. She’s hitting .312 this spring after batting .317 last season with two homers and 18 RBIs.

“Chloe had a little bit of a slow start — I know she was pressing,” Reynard said. “But we know what an effective hitter she is. She can be a doubles machine.

“She hits it hard and has always played like an older player.”