Naperville Central makes amends
Maddi Doane didn't make excuses for an inexplicable drop in center field.
"You can't do anything about it," reasoned the Naperville Central sophomore. "Just have to move on."
Sure enough, Doane and Kelsey Gonzalez both made amends for their errors. Gonzalez's bases-clearing double gave the Redhawks the lead, Doane singled in a pair of big insurance runs and made the game-ending catch in No. 6 Naperville Central's 6-3 win over Naperville North on Monday at North Central.
"I felt like I needed to come back and help the team, especially after that error," said the usually slick-fielding Gonzalez. "I don't like to make errors."
Naperville Central (25-6, 11-1 DuPage Valley Conference), which came from behind in both wins over its crosstown rival this year, trailed 3-1 through four innings. The Huskies (19-9, 9-4) scored 3 unearned runs in the third inning. Gonzalez's rare error on a wicked hop of a grounder opened the door to the rally, and with two outs Doane dropped a routine fly ball, bringing in the go-ahead runs.
In the bottom of the fifth, though, the Redhawks loaded the bases on three infield hits. A taylor-made rally, with Southern Illinois recruit Gonzalez due up and no place to put her. With one strike she drilled a pitch over the left fielder, bringing in 3 runs for a 4-3 lead.
"They had to pitch to me," Gonzalez said. "She was pitching me inside the whole game, and I was expecting the inside pitch, so I just went up there looking for it."
"What a great hit," Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum said, "and what a time to come through."
Huskies coach Jerry Kedziora acknowledged the unfortunate turn of events from his team's perspective.
"How many times do you get four infield hits in one inning?" Kedziora asked rhetorically. "Bad luck for us, good luck for them, and they did what they had to do. Gonzalez hit a good pitch and she hit it hard. We had her out on her front foot and she was able to go get it."
The next inning, Doane lined a high-hop single off Hahne into center to score 2 more runs, making it 6-3.
Naperville North, with wins this season already over Glenbard North, Benet and Bartlett, didn't go down without a fight. The Huskies loaded the bases with two outs, bringing up Kailee Budicin. Budicin hit a flyball that drove Doane back near the warning track. This time the Redhawks center fielder squeezed the final out. At either high school's field, it's a grand slam. Not with North Central's 220-foot dimensions to center.
"The catch felt better than the hit," said Doane, 3-for-4 on the day. "I was more ecstatic about that than the hit. I was really upset with myself afer that error, but I was really confident in my team. We've been hitting well. I knew we could come back."
Winning pitcher Keegan Hayes (13-3) allowed 6 hits while striking out five for Naperville Central, which inched a win closer to its first DVC title since 1989. The Redhawks, a game up on Glenbard North in the loss colum, wrap up with two games Thursday at West Chicago, including the resumption of an earlier suspended game.
"This is a huge win for us," Gonzalez said. "We're the only ones that control our own destiny. It's a good situation to be in."
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