The reaction to a recent three-game losing streak says something about the standard St. Charles North softball has set.
"We went from 4-0 with some really impressive wins to 4-3 and everybody is asking me what's wrong?" North Stars coach Tom Poulin said after Tuesday's 4-1 win over Lake Park in an Upstate Eight Conference crossover.
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"We'll be fine. If we can consistently get some games in I think we can grow at a faster rate. That's what we're lacking right now is that opportunity."
Now 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the Upstate Eight River, St. Charles North's 3-game losing streak should come with an asterisk. The North Stars were missing Northwestern recruit Sabrina Rabin with an injured shin and calf for a doubleheader loss to New Trier.
Rabin said she's back to 100 percent and she certainly looked it against a Lake Park lineup filled with dangerous hitters. Rabin improved to 5-1 allowing 5 hits and 1 run while striking out five in her complete game.
"We knew they were going to be good hitters so I really focused on hitting my spots and knowing my defense would play behind me," Rabin said. "Definitely keep them off-balance and mix it up so you don't become predictable."
Rabin mixed her screwball, drop curve and rise ball with a couple timely change-ups.
"Sabrina really did a great job hitting her spots," Poulin said. "That's a team that can put up 10 runs in a heartbeat. And we backed her up defensively. This was probably our best game defensively and that's a good sign."
Perhaps most importantly, Rabin didn't walk a batter. The patient North Stars, meanwhile, drew six walks and also reached on four errors.
The North Stars played error-free ball behind Rabin.
"You give them 10 free baserunners. you feel like every inning is bases loaded," Lancers coach Tom Mazzie said. "It's tough to win that way. They made some plays on soft liners we didn't make. And their pitcher was great."
The North Stars jumped on Danielle Jecmen (8-2) with three runs in the first inning. Rabin led off with a single. After a sacrifice bunt by Kaitlyn Waslawski and a walk to Mickey Goetz, catcher Emily Brodner launched a home run over the fence in center field for a quick 3-0 lead.
It was the first home run of the year for Brodner after she blasted a pair last year as a sophomore.
"She (Jecmen) was kind of my type of pitcher," Brodner said. "She pitched it more outside which is one of the harder pitches to hit but I just waited on it and took it to center field."
Jecmen helped herself in the fourth with a home run down the line in left field, her fifth of the season.
"She's killing the ball," Mazzie said.
The North Stars got the run back in the fifth. Waslawski led off with a single, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Goetz.
The North Stars missed a few chances to add to their lead stranding nine runners compared to Lake Park's four.
Brodner was the only player on either team to have a multihit game going 2-for-3 with 3 RBI. Weather permitting, the North Stars finish the week with Streamwood, a road game at Glenbard North, Larkin and then Burlington Central on Saturday.
"That was really good to know we have that little leeway," Rabin said of the 3-run first. "But you still have to stay on your toes against a team like this."
Two of the three losses in Lake Park's 11-3, 4-2 season are to St. Charles North and St. Charles East.
"I was happy with our approach at the plate," Mazzie said. "We just didn't get the timely hit. I had a bunch squaring it up. We've got to get back to our gap to gap hitting we had earlier in the year and we'll start scoring runs.
"Little things are making the difference now, but these St. Charles teams are legit. They are good teams."