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updated: 6/2/2012 5:52 PM

Little rest no problem for Maine West

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By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

Three hours of sleep and extra innings didn't mean a thing to Maine West's Katie Fitzgerald and Ariel Valles.

The duo got home at 4:30 a.m. Saturday after celebrating their senior prom Friday night.

With some sleep still in their eyes, the pair then hit and pitched the Warriors to their first sectional title in school history with a 4-2 victory over New Trier in 10 innings at Niles West in Skokie.

Maine West (27-10) will meet Bartlett in Monday's supersectional at Bandit Stadium in Rosemont at 4:30 p.m.

"It was easier than I expected it to be," said Fitzgerald, whose two-out, two-run double in the top of the tenth helped decide the game.

"I had expected to be exhausted out there. But I feel pretty good."

Valles, who kept New Trier (31-6) off its stride with her pitching, also didn't feel tired.

She scattered 12 hits and got a defensive gem to move the Warriors along.

"I had the mindset that if this was the last inning of my last game, I was going to give it my all," said Valles, who pitched a total of 17 innings in less than 24 hours after the Warriors' sectional semifinal win over Glenbrook North on Friday.

"I felt real good out there. And my teammates made big plays behind me."

"It was very exciting out there today," said Maine West coach Amy Gonzales, who is in her first year as head coach. "I didn't think I would make it through all the innings. But our girls refuse to give in."

Renee Pond, who had 3 of the Warriors' 6 hits on the day, staked Valles to a 1-0 lead in the second when she doubled down the left field line to score Fitzgerald, who had walked.

"I had hit against her (New Trier pitcher Brigit Leuter) before," Pond said. "I was just trying to keep the ball in play against her."

New Trier was able to tie the game in the fifth, thanks to an error by the Warriors.

The Trevians had a chance to blow the game open with two outs and runners on second and third but Maine West center fielder Abbey Herling made a spectacular diving catch in to end the inning.

"I was so nervous when the ball was hit," Herling said. "I had never dove for a ball before because I didn't know how to do it. But I knew I had to get the ball and I was surprised when it was still in my glove."

Maine West appeared to have the game won in the seventh. In their half of the inning, the Warriors took the lead on Pond's RBI single, scoring Fitzgerald.

In the bottom of the inning, Maine West got two quick outs, but a single and a blooping double, sent the game into extra innings.

After Valles was able to pitch out of a jam in the 9th standing a runner at second, Maine West came back to take the lead for good in the tenth.

With Holly Wengerski on second and Angela Cruz on first, Herling, who bats in the three-spot, dropped a picture-perfect bunt with one out to advance the runners into scoring position.

"I should have bunted her the last time she came up to bat," Gonzales said. "So I wanted to give Katie a chance here."

Fitzgerald didn't disappoint her coach, dropping a ball into right field just under the glove of the outfielder and the ball bounded away, scoring both Wengerski and Cruz.

"I wasn't nervous at all up there," Fitzgerald said. "It is fun to be the one in that situation."

This time Valles got three in a row to close out the game. She enticed Abby Boyd, who had 3 hits in her prior four at bats, to hit a soft dribbler to Hanna Udischas at first base. After touching first base for the clinching out, Udischas then threw her glove and the ball into the air in celebration.

"Everyone has contributed when we needed them," Gonzales said. "The really leave it all on the field. Now they can go home and rest until Monday."

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