The only thing that kept St. Charles North sophomore Abby Howlett in the park Friday was the park itself.
Howlett's blast in the first inning one-hopped the 230-foot sign in center field at Batavia. If she was playing on her home field or almost any other in the area, Howlett's ball would have sailed way over the fence.
As it was, Howlett settled for a 2-run double, then later added a 2-run single in the seventh inning, the bookends of a 6-0 St. Charles North victory in an Upstate Eight Conference River Division matchup.
Howlett also didn't get any help from the wind. which was blowing in, on her long drive.
"Yeah," Howlett said when asked if she thought the ball was gone. "I was just glad it was a nice hard hit."
Howlett's 3-for-4, 4-RBI day was just the latest in her strong sophomore season. She entered the week hitting .440.
"I'm just thinking about getting in there, having an idea, hitting my pitch, making sure it's right there and going hard after everything," Howlett said.
Sabrina Rabin opened the game with a single and was joined on base by Mickey Goetz with two outs when Howlett drove them both in with her double.
"She's been hitting the ball," North Stars coach Tom Poulin said. "From the start of the season she impressed us in the cage when we were stuck indoors so long. She came out of the gate swinging a hot bat. She's been consistent. She's knocking the ball around quite a bit this season."
Batavia (2-10, 1-7) played much better than its previous game, a 10-run rule loss to St. Charles East. Starter Allicia Mueller kept it a 2-0 game until St. Charles North (9-4, 5-2) scored once in the fifth.
Rabin again set the tone, using her blazing speed to beat out a sharp grounder right at Batavia third baseman Selena Kweder who fielded the ball cleanly and made a good throw to first. Rabin then stole second -- one of her three steals -- and scored on a single by Goetz.
"I've got to give credit to her, she's got good speed, she gets good jumps off the base," Batavia coach Lupe Catellanos said. "Our catcher (freshman Brieann Cruz) made good throws down there, she just beat it out. There's not too much more we could do. It's pretty difficult when they have girls with speed like that because you have to pretty much be perfect."
Rabin, Goetz, Howlett and No. 2 hitter Kaitlyn Waslawski combined to go 10 for 15 with all 6 runs and 6 RBI. Those three were in the middle of a three-run rally in the seventh inning to double the final score from 3-0 to 6-0.
"I think our speed is one of our biggest assets," Poulin said. "We're our most productive as an offense when we get Sabrina on, Kaitlyn on. We'll send anybody and make them make plays. We want to be aggressive with pretty much everybody in our lineup."
Rabin tossed a complete game shutout to improve to 7-2. She allowed 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out six.
Batavia had its chances, leaving seven runners on base including runners at second and third in both the first and sixth innings. Katie Ryan led Batavia going 2-for-3.
"The girls did a lot better job today, our defense was a lot better," Catellanos said. "Our offense is still kind of stagnant. We had our opportunities. We just didn't come up with that big hit. Against teams like St. Charles North they aren't going to give you anything."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.