It was the perfect call from Juliet Tassi, and Keegan Hayes couldn’t have thrown the pitch any better.
Everything seems to be breaking Naperville Central’s way these days.
With the tying run at third base and two out in the bottom of the seventh, Hayes froze Glenbard North’s Stephanie Campos with a full-count changeup, and the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Redhawks held on to beat No. 4 Panthers 2-1 on Monday in Carol Stream.
“I don’t think she was expecting changeup, and I was feeling it today,” said Hayes, who struck out seven. “It was definitely a good call. It was risky, but it ended up working.”
Campos had been 0-for-3 up to that point, but two of those were hard-hit drives to the outfield that died with the wind blowing in. She got one last chance, after Sarah Petzold singled leading off, was sacrificed to second and went to third on a wild pitch.
Hayes (9-0) fell behind 2-0, and worked it to 2-2 before Campos laid off a tantalizing changeup.
After two foul balls, Tassi, the Redhawks catcher, went back to the well. Hayes dotted the outside corner with a higher changeup.
“I had confidence in Keegan to throw it,” said Tassi, Hayes’ catcher since she was a freshman. “I thought it was the right call.”
“We got exactly what we wanted there,” said Glenbard North coach Josh Sanew, who moved Campos up to leadoff two games into the year. “We said if we would want anyone up there it would be Campos.”
Naperville Central (14-0, 2-0 DuPage Valley Conference) extended the program’s best start, but as coach Andy Nussbaum noted, “this was more about being 2-0 than 14-0.”
The Redhawks haven’t won the DVC since 1989. The memory of losing at least a share of the league title to Glenbard North on the last day of last season still resonates with the girls.
“This is the best start we’ve had in years, but 14-0 means nothing at this point,” Tassi said. “We have much higher goals. We can’t overlook anyone.”
The Redhawks started well, scoring single runs in the first and third to stake Hayes to a 2-0 lead. Maddi Doane singled to start the game and Lisa Tassi doubled her in. In the third Lindsay Gonzalez and Doane singled, Juliet Tassi dropped down her second sacrifice bunt and Lisa Tassi made contact on a tough changeup for an RBI grounder.
“This is a huge game for us,” said Nussbaum, in his 32nd season in the Redhawks dugout. “They’re the best team we’re going to play in our league, and them and West Chicago have been for the last 30 years.”
Glenbard North (8-2, 1-1) started the fourth with four straight singles, Ashley Stiver singling in Alex Caliva.
But Hayes bore down from there, getting a forceout at the plate, a strikeout and a grounder.
Sydney Benz doubled to start Glenbard North’s sixth, but Hayes promtly retired the next three on grounders to Courtney Giebel at third.
Hayes’ poise under pressure was reminiscent to Naperville Central’s other biggest win, 3-2 over Benet.
“She is just a very even-keeled person,” Juliet Tassi said. “She doesn’t let much get to her, and if she does she doesn’t show it.”
Glenbard North’s Lindsey Cherry (6-2) was lights out after the third inning, retiring the last 15 batters she faced.
“We let them off the hook there,” Sanew said. “We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities and they did.”
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