A sweep complete, Warren's softball team watched its tarp get swept up by a mighty gust of cold wind.
"Noooooo!" a Blue Devil screamed, as the giant infield cover nearly went airborne, a la a magic carpet.
No worries. The hosts had their teamwork down pat Saturday. With a little aid from the opponent, Carmel Catholic, as well as several big tires, Warren secured the tarp. And all was good for the Blue Devils, who followed up their 12-1 win over Glenbrook South in the morning with a 6-4 victory over Carmel in the afternoon.
"They performed awesome," Warren coach Tina Meyer said after her girls improved to 6-3 and stretched their winning streak to five games. "They didn't have any errors, they hit, and they kept each other up."
The kind of defensive execution that ended the top of the fifth will elevate any softball team's morale.
Down three runs against Warren ace Jana Wagner after Jenny Behan's RBI double, Carmel had Behan at third and freshman slugger Amanda Elert at first with two out. Sophomore Sarah Koesser then hit a shot to deep left field. As the ball rolled to the fence, Behan scored easily, and Corsairs coach Jason Raymond sent Elert as she rounded third.
Left fielder Jazmin Bonke hit shortstop Jill Fox with the relay throw, and Fox winged a letter-high strike to catcher Sam Belletini, who blocked the plate and tagged out a sliding Elert.
There would be no more scoring the rest of the day.
"I'm glad to see that because that's what we've been working on," Meyer said. "We've struggled a little bit with hitting our relays and cuts. That was a key, great play."
Fox picked up where she left off in the top of the sixth, sliding to catch the red-hot Amy Abel's popup, which was anything but routine thanks to the whipping wind.
"Jill, Megan (Sowa in center field), Kelly (Majewski in right field), Jaz (Bonke)-- our whole entire outfield did amazing with controlling the wind," Warren first baseman Amy Ricci said.
The wind, which was blowing in from left field, held up long flies in all three games played on Warren's varsity diamond. So go figure that the only home run came off the bat of the 5-foot-1 Ricci.
With Sowa on first base after her RBI single pulled the Blue Devils within 2-1 in the bottom of the first, the cleanup-hitting Ricci pulled a Mia Dicara pitch over the fence in right field for Warren's first homer of the season.
"She got everything on that," said Carmel coach Jason Raymond, whose team went 1-1 on the day.
"I didn't really know what to expect," Ricci said. "I had 2 strikes and I just didn't want to strike out. I swung my hardest, and my hardest was enough to hit it out."
It wasn't a day to hit home runs, mind you.
"I thought, 'Oh, another popup,' " said Ricci, who hit 3 home runs in an all-area campaign last spring. "But then it went over. So I'm excited. ... I felt it hit off the sweet part of my bat."
Sowa (3 RBI) and Megan Scott each had 2 hits for Warren. Three of the Blue Devils' 8 hits were bunt singles by Scott, Michelle Vasen and Bonke. Scott and Vasen reached in the second, leading to Sowa's 2-run single.
"There will be a lot of time spent in practice on fielding the bunt," Raymond said.
"They're fast," he added of Warren's players. "They get down the line. But we're better than that, as far as fielding bunts."
Behan (2-for-2, 2 walks) and Elert (2-for-4) led Carmel's 9-hit attack. The Corsairs (4-2) pounded out 15 hits -- four apiece by Abel and Kathleen Felicelli and three by Skyler Zak -- in their 5-2 win over Glenbrook South, before taking the field against Warren.
"Our hitters had good approaches at the plate," Raymond said. "We hit the ball hard. The wind didn't do us any favors, that's for sure, but that's part of the game."
After going 4-for-4 against Glenbrook South, the varsity veteran Abel made it five straight hits in the first inning against Warren, lining a 2-run single to start the scoring.
Sowa made a running catch in right-center on Abel's line drive in the fourth.
"I've been kind of in a slump, so I just came out with a different mental attitude, and it seemed to pay off," Abel said. "I was like, 'I need to come out with a different mentality,' because whatever I had in my mind before wasn't really working for me. I came out with a positive attitude -- and stroked it."
Wagner allowed only 1 hit after Warren's defensive gem to end the Carmel fifth. The junior righty struck out seven.
"She did a good job," Meyer said. "I think she kept her composure, and our defense, especially with this wind, did a really good job."
"She really hit her spots," Abel said of Wagner. "She was coming inside and going high, too. She was hitting the outside corner, too. That made us struggle a little bit."