It is Lindsey Cherry's time now, and she looks ready to shine.
Glenbard North's senior pitcher took a perfect game into the fourth inning and struck out 11, the No. 5 Panthers beating York 7-1 in their season opener and first game of a doubleheader Saturday in Carol Stream.
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"What can you say?" Glenbard North coach Josh Sanew said with a smile. "It's a good thing to have a senior in Lindsey Cherry back. She threw great. First time out, on a cold day with some wind, she did a good job."
Glenbard North (2-0) swept, taking the second game 6-1.
Cherry apprenticed last year behind Daily Herald All-Area Captain Lilly Fecho, now at Purdue. For a No. 2 Cherry was pretty darn good. She went 7-0 with a 0.91 earned run average in 54 innings.
Cherry and her teammates still remember well last year's stinging sectional loss to Bartlett. It is a group determined to make a deep playoff run.
"It's definitely my time, but also our time as a team," Cherry said. "We really want to get a lot farther than last year. Today was a good start."
Mixing her pitches well, but particularly relying on a well-located curveball low and away, Cherry set down the first 10 York batters before Gracie Sullivan's one-out single in the fourth. She only allowed 3 hits and a walk.
"She relies on her curveball," Sanew said. "That's her go-to pitch."
Glenbard North got Cherry all the offense she needed courtesy of a 3-run second inning.
Sydney Benz singled to start things, Heather Sperlazzo reached on a soft liner just out of the reach of the York shortstop, and after a wild pitch Ashley Stiver whistled a run-scoring single under the third baseman's glove.
Cherry followed with a 2-run single up the middle, making it 3-0.
Benz later singled in Alex Caliva in the fifth, Glenbard North scoring 3 more time in the fifth on errors.
Louisville-bound junior shortstop Benz, who slumped some average-wise as a sophomore after hitting .400 as a freshman, set the tone on a crisp March morning.
"Just staying on the ball and staying up the middle," Sanew said. "That's all we want her to do. That girl's been at it all fall, working her tail off. I think that's going to transform onto the field. We're happy with what we saw. That's our key, is we have to get runs on the board. We do have a talented offense."
York finally scored in the sixth, Angela Scalzitti walking, stealing second and scoring on an infield grounder. The Dukes' bats were similarly silenced in Thursday's 3-1 season-opening loss to Zion-Benton.
"We got to start off quicker," Dukes coach Drew McGuire said, "We're not getting on base to use our speed right now, which is kind of hurting us."
Elena Schwarz pitched better than the final score, allowing just 5 hits.
"She threw it real well, kept them off balance," McGuire said. "She just didn't have the defense behind her."
In Game 2 Panthers junior Cece Dopart fired a 5-hitter, striking out seven. Benz went 2-for-4 with a double, 2 RBI and run scored, Stephanie Campos 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and 3 runs scored and Stiver 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Freshman Abby Solem was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for York (0-3).
Follow Josh on Twitter @jwelge96