One would not have guessed St. Charles East had lost its last two softball games based on Friday's 8-0 victory over visiting Metea Valley.
Haley Beno pitched a 3-hitter with 10 strikeouts, her fielders handled most everything, the small-ball game worked and on top of that the Saints' batters caused serious damage.
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When we say damage we mean it. In the third inning with St. Charles East (4-3, 1-2) already leading the Upstate Eight Conference game 3-0, cleanup hitter Alex Latoria turned on a ball that took about a second to clear the left field fence and smack St. Charles East's new scoreboard, denting the thing.
Just as impressive was Latoria's first-inning at-bat, fouling off four straight pitches from Metea Valley starter Jenna Hall (1-1) before singling past diving third baseman Alyssa Coletto. The Saints' Sarah Collalti then smoked a 2-run double to deep left field.
"We've been really pressing, like we really want to win because we know we're good, but we've just not been getting the hits that we needed in certain situations. But it's all coming together now," Latoria said.
Latoria, 3-for-4 on the day, was among four Saints with at least 2 hits. Collalti had a pair as did leadoff hitter Lexi Perez, plus 2 runs scored. The last batter in coach Kelly Horan's lineup, second baseman Olivia Cheatham, doubled twice. Right fielder Olivia Lorenzini drove in 2 runs, one on a majestic solo homer over the fence in right-center for a 6-0 lead after 5 innings.
"I thought today was a complete game all the way around," Horan said. "Pitching was great, defense was great and I thought we had a great approach at the plate, so I was really happy with that."
Beno (2-2) pitched a no-hitter through 5 innings. Till then Metea Valley (2-2, 2-1) managed one baserunner, Coletto reaching on a second-inning error.
The Saints right-hander, who walked none and threw strikes on 64 of 97 pitches, used a low fastball, a drop-curve, changeup and a riseball which Mustangs coach Kris Kalivas wished her hitters had laid off.
"I think that we just didn't adjust at the plate," Kalivas said. "She threw the same sequence of pitches every batter and we continued to swing at them. So when you give her the control she's going to have a good day."
Metea's Alexa Caputo drove a ball deep to the warning track in left that was caught in the fourth inning. In the fifth Cheatham drifted back to snare a tricky pop up and preserve Beno's no-hitter. Katie Kennedy finally nicked Beno with one out in the sixth, beating out a drag bunt.
Beno didn't realize she'd had a no-hitter.
"I just pitch and hope for the best," she said, and on Friday St. Charles East delivered.
"I think today we totally just clicked and we were all on our game and we were playing well," Beno said.