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updated: 4/12/2013 10:22 PM

DuPage hangs on at Harper

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By Jonathan Cregier

On Friday, Harper College welcomed one of the North Central Community College Conference's top softball teams to Palatine in College of DuPage.

It wasn't easy for either team, but the Chaparrals (16-9, 10-1) managed to pull out an 11-10 victory before weather and deteriorating field conditions forced the cancellation of the scheduled second game.

"We were lucky to get this one in," said COD coach Ryan Connell. "We just came out 1 run ahead."

As Harper pitcher Paige Ward (Conant) was taking the circle for her warm up tosses, a light mist started to fall. In the second inning, it had grown to a steady rain.

"(The weather) is the same for both teams," said first year Harper coach Cray Allen. "It's the Chicago weather -- it's been like this since the start of the season."

In the early going, it looked like it would be all DuPage. The visitors tallied 3 runs thanks to 3 RBI from Katie Durr (Mundelein) in the first inning.

The Hawks (4-8, 4-7) tied it at 3-3 in the second on a pair of hits and a wild pitch.

Connell credited Allen for Harper's mental toughness.

"Cray has his kids believeing they can come back," Connell said.

COD put up another big number in the third inning, scoring 4 runs to go ahead 7-3. Natalie Nawasada (Addison Trail), who finished 3-for-3 with 2 RBI, led off with a single.

"Nawasada came up big in a couple of spots," Connell said.

It didn't help that the Harper defense was in a giving mood. Allen estimated his team gave away as many as 5 runs due to miscues.

"Defensively, we gave them too many outs," Allen said.

Connell was quick to praise Harper's Ward (7 strikeouts, 4 earned runs). Her record fell to 4-7.

"She did an excellent job of hitting her spots," Connell said.

"She's going to keep us in a lot of ballgames," Allen said.

Ward also contributed at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a two extra-base hits.

Harper trailed 11-6 heading into its final at-bat and rallied to score 4 runs against COD reliever Karen Caisthaer before ultimately coming up 1 run short.

"I think this time around we were better (then the first time the teams met)," Allen said.

Starter Rachel Dlask (Lyons Township) earned the win after pitching 5 innings.

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