It is almost unfair to spot Elaine Heflin 3 runs.
It happened Monday at Glenbard West, and Downers Grove North's senior fireballer did the rest.
Heflin struck out 18 Hilltoppers in a 3-hitter, the No. 7-ranked Trojans rolling 5-0 in the West Suburban Silver opener at rainy Memorial Park.
Heflin's 18 strikeouts are a season high, just off her personal best of 20 set her freshman year against Prospect. A win seemed almost a formality after Downers Grove North (8-3, 1-0) struck for 3 unearned runs in the first inning before Heflin even took the mound.
"It really helps when we score first and the girls are aggressive at the plate," Heflin said. "That builds up my confidence, knowing that they have my back."
Downers Grove North took a hit the season's first week when co-ace Dale Ryndak went down with a torn ACL. Heflin and the Trojans are showing themselves still a team to be reckoned with, though.
Heflin, committed to UIC, 1-hit Trinity last week, then shut out previously unbeaten Plainfield South. In 54 innings she has struck out 108 batters, and allowed just 16 hits and 5 earned runs. She finished strong Monday, striking out the last eight batters she faced.
"Off-season, I've been training really hard. It feels normal for me to throw the full seven innings," said Heflin, who rarely went the distance in games last year with Ryndak around. "I could probably throw another seven after that. We lost a great player like Dale, everybody needs to step up and play their best. That's what we're doing."
Playing under a stop-start drizzle, Heflin almost exclusively went with hard stuff, only throwing a couple changeups.
"We noticed that they were behind on their swings a little, so we just attacked," Heflin said.
The Trojans tallied all their runs with two outs, starting with the three in the first.
Glenbard West center fielder Julia Waggoner threw out a Trojans runner out at the plate, but a two-out infield error kept the rally alive and Ali Woitovich and Claire Jagielo made the Hilltoppers pay with run-scoring singles.
In the third Maddie Wojciak singled and came around to score on a wild pitch on a Glenbard West strikeout.
Starting pitcher Kelsey Schoenfeld, who threw an inning, probably deserved a better fate. Taylor Langtry came on in the second and threw six strong innings, striking out eight and allowing 1 earned run.
Unfortunately, untimely mistakes are nothing new for the Hilltoppers (5-7, 0-1) on the young season.
"Kelsey earned that start today, we thought we'd kind of throw their hitters off balance," Glenbard West coach Mary McGrane said. "I wanted my girls to hear that it wasn't her. If we make that play in the first inning, field that groundball we come out of there scoreless and it's a whole different ballgame. But that's kind of been our story all season."
Rachel Terwilliger went 2-for-3 for Glenbard West. Carolyn Nojiri went 2-for-3, reached on a walk and scored a run for Downers Grove North, raising her batting average to .553. Brittany Nagy also had 2 hits.