On a sunny, Easter-weekend day, the black-rimmed sunglasses of Warren softball player Sam Belletini screamed "spring."
They sported multiple flowers of different colors. Never mind that she was oblivious of the pattern until she took her sunglasses off.
"They're cheap," Belletini said with a shrug of her shades.
The junior catcher's 3-run homer in the top of the seventh against host Carmel Catholic on Saturday?
Not cheap at all.
It sprung off Belletini's bat.
The spring blast highlighted a 4-run rally, as Warren stunned Carmel 8-6 in the first of three games in Mundelein. Glenbrook South edged Warren 2-1 in the middle game -- dropping the Blue Devils' record to 10-2-1 -- before Carmel salvaged a 2-0 win over Glenbrook South in the finale.
Belletini's homer, which was her second of the season after she had none on varsity as a sophomore, overshadowed Sally Snarski's 3-run shot that put Carmel ahead 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth.
In her previous at-bat, in the third, Snarski grounded out to Warren pitcher Jessica Demski after she batted the ball off her left foot. Snarski limped halfway down the line but assumed it was a foul ball.
Instead, the ball was ruled fair and the senior slugger was out. That provided Snarski motivation when she came to bat with teammates Kathleen Felicelli and Jenny Behan on base two innings later.
"It's all right," Snarski said of her foot. "It just kind of bothered me that the (home-plate umpire) didn't see it."
Before her long home run, which landed on top of the batting case beyond the fence in center field, Snarski turned a 6-3-5 double play to end the top of the fifth and keep Carmel within striking distance.
Belletini had hit a shot to Felicelli at shortstop. Felicelli fired to Snarski at first base to retire Belletini, and Snarski then gunned a strike to third baseman Behan, who applied the tag on Warren's base runner trying to advance on the groundball.
Felicelli then led off the bottom of the inning with a single, and Behan singled as well, bringing up Snarski.
"I think it's so important to take the (momentum) you get on defense and turn it into stuff you use on offense," Snarski said.
On the strength of Snarski's third homer of the season, Carmel took its 6-4 lead into the seventh.
Corsairs starter Nicole Bitter retired the first hitter she faced. But Warren leadoff batter Megan Sowa then pulled a pitch over the fence in right field for a solo homer. Jill Fox and Amy Ricci followed with sharply hit singles, bringing up Belletini, who jacked a pitch deep to left field.
"I was actually just hoping not to make the last out," Belletini said. "I was thinking, 'Oh, a little dinker to right field will move the runners.' But the home run works for me, too."
Belletini had a one-out RBI single in the first. She, Sowa (double), Fox (double) and Kelly Majewski (RBI double) each had 2 hits.
"She's really hard on herself a lot, but she comes through in big times," Warren coach Carri McGahan, whose team already has had multiple comeback wins this season, said of Belletini. "So it was nice to see her (hit the 3-run homer) because it helps her confidence."
Warren sophomore Jana Wagner earned the win with 3 scoreless innings in relief, after replacing Demski following Snarski's homer. Wagner retired all nine batters she faced, striking out five. In the seventh, she struck out Felicelli (2-for-4) and Behan (2-for-4) and got Snarski (2-for-4) to pop out.
Wagner retired the equally dangerous Kelley Dodge (2-for-4) to end the sixth.
"She worked really hard in the off-season," McGahan said of Wagner, who pitched on varsity as a sophomore and continues to share the circle with Demski. "I know she still goes to pitching lessons on a regular basis. She's definitely improved and gotten better control of her changeup. She's gotten a little faster, (too)."
In Warren's loss to Glenbrook South, the Blue Devils were shut down by sophomore Katie Rossman and senior Jen Zucker, who each allowed just 1 hit. Amy Ricci had a sixth-inning double off Zucker (4 strikeouts, 1 walk) who pitched the final 4 innings for the win.
Glenbrook South snapped a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fifth, when Yassie Giliana singled home Rossman, who had led off the inning with a bunt single.
Wagner threw all 6 innings for Warren, striking out five and yielding 5 hits, including a double to Megan Steil. Both runs Wagner allowed were unearned.
Ricci drove in Warren's lone run with a first-inning groundout that scored Sowa, who had started the game with a single and stolen second base.