Bartlett's 4-run first inning was not what Wheaton North's softball team needed.
Sydney Johnson's leadoff double to the left-field wall and Steph Tomazin following her infield single by essentially walking into second base to end a rundown quickly illustrated what was working for the Hawks and what was not for the Falcons in Bartlett's 10-0 win to start the nonconference doubleheader in Wheaton.
"We like to play really aggressive on the basepaths, force a team to make decisions, force them to make mistakes," said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith, whose club won the second game 5-0.
"Sometimes you run yourselves into an out that way, but we find that more often than not you're going to run yourselves into runs. I thought we did a good job in that first inning, and we just kind of played it conservative the rest of the way."
Wheaton North coach Karen Calabrese mentioned lapses of confidence not a half-hour before Falcons right-hander Nickey Kent threw the first pitch.
"If a girl's walking to second base and she can get there safely there's a problem, and that's just what we're lacking," Calabrese said. "We're lacking that aggressiveness and that confidence to go after that girl. We're playing afraid to make a mistake rather than playing with some intensity."
Handed a 5-0 lead after two innings powered by RBI hits from catcher Kaylyn Zierke and shortstop Kayla Haberstich, hard-throwing Bartlett right-hander Tori Burke (2-2) proceeded to limit the Falcons' bats.
In 4 innings of work, Burke struck out six and allowed 1 hit -- Falcons right fielder Emily Bonga stayed back on a high changeup to swat it over the shortstop's head. Alicia Salata came on for 2 innings of 1-hit, shutout relief. Falcons freshman Kelly Thornton solved Salata for a single.
Zierke handled the two hurlers while going 3-for-3 at the place with a double and 2 RBI.
"It was definitely the riseball, because they were getting a little bit fooled with that," she said. "We usually just go inside and outside. We look for the weakness of the batter, so we do off-speeds."
Kent (1-4) settled down until the fifth, when immediately after Bartlett's coaches demanded no more "soft swings," Tomazin cranked the first pitch she saw more than 200 feet for a solo home run over the left-field fence.
"It was like a pump-up speech, I guess you could say. And then my dad (Joe) finally came, so I had him for his support," Tomazin said.
Bartlett (5-2) delivered the knockout with a 4-run sixth inning, getting singles and runs by Andreana Taormina, Dana Paul and Holly Pagan.
Wheaton North (2-8) will try to gain that confidence -- "in a hurry," Calabrese said, "because we're running out of time."
"I think we just need to be more aggressive and work together as a team," said the Falcons' slick-fielding third baseman, Katherine Meyer. "When we get down in the first inning we need to be able to keep our heads up and come back instead of letting it affect us for the rest of the game."
In Game 2, Amanda Montbriand fired a 1-hitter for the Hawks, striking out 4 and walking 4. Zierke had a double for Bartlett, while Alex Morales (3-for-4, RBI), Holly Pagan (3 RBI) and Cara Carrion (2-for-3, RBI) also produced offensively.