Neuqua Valley senior Alyssa Domico may have used an old cliché Wednesday, but it rang truer than ever in the Wildcats' 10-5 Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division softball win at South Elgin.
"Hitting is contagious," Domico said. "We've gotten into a rhythm lately and when one girl hits we all hit. We've got a positive attitude and we're focused. It's pretty awesome."
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Domico hit the first of 3 Neuqua home runs and her first of the season in Wednesday's win, a 3-run shot to left field in the top of the first inning that staked the Wildcats (12-8, 8-3) to a 4-0 lead. Senior Kelsey Dominguez had driven in junior Jamie O'Brien with the game's first run after O'Brien led off with a sharp single to center and was sacrificed to second by senior Rebecca Lincoln.
"Alyssa Domico, over the past two weeks, has broken out and she's doing such a great job in the batter's box," said Neuqua Valley coach Melissa Wilson. "She's just been so aggressive."
Domico's shot wasn't the end of Neuqua's home run barrage as the Wildcats kept pace in the UEC Valley, which has turned into a five-team race with Bartlett now a game ahead of the pack that includes Neuqua, Waubonsie Valley, Lake Park and South Elgin.
After the Storm (13-8, 8-3) scored on a Mallory Mecklenburg double and an Alyssa Buddle RBI single in the bottom of the first, Neuqua made it 6-1 on a 2-run homer to left field from junior Colleen Hill, her fourth of the season, that scored Lincoln ahead of her after Lincoln had singled with one out.
Homer No. 3 came in the fourth inning, a 3-run blast from Dominguez that also scored O'Brien (2-for-4) and Lincoln (2-for-3), who had each singled. That made it 9-1 and Neuqua appeared to be on cruise control until 2 errors helped South Elgin score 4 runs in the bottom of the fourth. Brittany Koss had an RBI single and Katie Koss a 2-run single for the Storm, which left 11 runners on base in the game including the bases loaded in the first two innings and runners at second and third in the third and fourth.
The Wildcats added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, Domico scoring on an error after leading off with a single.
"We know we have this power we just haven't been using it consistently," said Wilson. "It's a good time of the season to be doing it. This was a big conference game for us. The conference is kind of in shambles right now."
Senior Mac Spittal picked up the win for the Wildcats despite walking 7 hitters. She allowed 8 hits and had 6 strikeouts.
Sam Helton and Katie Koss each had 2 hits for the Storm. Paige Allen was the losing pitcher.
"You can't leave 11 runners on base and win a game," said South Elgin coach Jason Schaal. "Again, just like (Tuesday, a 6-3 loss to Lake Park) we didn't get the hits when we needed them. They got to Paige early and we didn't expect that but we got the runners on and we didn't get the big hit.
"We're never going to give up and we're never going to put our heads down but if we're going to contend for a conference and regional championship we have to fix those things."
The two teams will meet again Friday in a 5 p.m. start at The Ballpark of Rosemont.