No. 1 Naperville Central sweeps Lake Park
Naperville Central's softball diamond doesn't suggest a hitter's paradise, what with the dimensions 220 feet to all fields.
Clearly, the confines are friendly to the Redhawks.
No. 1 Naperville Central continued its recent red-hot hitting at home Saturday, remaining unbeaten by sweeping No. 11 Lake Park 7-0 and 12-1.
In eight home games since April 22, the Redhawks (24-0) have scored 77 runs. Naperville Central has tallied a total of 6 runs in three road games during the same stretch.
Andy Nussbaum, never one to miss out on a numerical trend, has noticed.
"I don't know what it is, but things are going good here at home," Naperville Central's coach said. "We're capable of hitting the ball good anywhere, but it's definitely a trend."
Naperville Central erased an early 1-0 deficit in Game 2, batting around in a six-run second inning and again in a six-run third. Kaitlyn Skarecky's rocket double started the second-inning rally, and Lindsay Gonzalez delivered a big two-out, two-run single to get the Redhawks on the board.
It opened the floodgates. Maddi Doane followed with a towering two-run triple and Katie Lamich an RBI single.
An inning later Lamich singled in 2 runs and Keegan Hayes doubled in 2 more.
"We're comfortable at home, but I think we're always hitting. We feed off of each other," Skarecky said. "It's definitely something we talked about, that we want to take this hitting on the road."
Naperville Central doesn't need much offense, if it keeps pitching like it has lately.
Hayes (15-0) threw a one-hitter in Game 1, striking out four, and Julie Kestas (9-0) shook off an unearned run in the first inning of Game 2 to throw a three-hitter. Hayes has allowed just 1 unearned run her last 32 innings, Kestas 5 runs her last 40.
"We're going to win a lot of games, home or away, when you're pitching like that," said Nussbaum, whose pitchers gave up 3 runs in six games this week, "and defensively we've been sharp."
Hayes' teammates gave her a 3-0 cushion after an inning, Lisa Tassi tripling in 2 runs and Hayes driving in Tassi with an RBI grounder. She knew what to do with the lead, and Naperville Central played stellar defense behind her. Gonzalez's back-handed stab and throw from her knees ended it.
"We don't know these hitters as well, but we had a good pregame meeting," Hayes said. "It always helps when your team can score 3 runs for you early."
Sam Cummings had Lake Park's lone hit in Game 1 and doubled in the Lancers' only run in Game 2.
Naperville Central is the seventh ranked opponent Lake Park (18-7) has faced, but Tom Mazzie confirmed the Redhawks are clearly the class of the group.
"They're undefeated for a reason, that's all you can say. You don't accidentally win 24 games in a row," Mazzie said. "They have great pitching, they make all the plays, they're versatile offensively and the most impressive thing to me is their team speed. They can do it all.
"There's a reason we schedule these games. We want to schedule the best. Obviously we have some work to do."
The one-sided doubleheader was perhaps a pleasant surprise to Nussbaum and the Redhawks. At this point, though, no measure of success should be catching them off guard.
"Nobody in their right mind would have expected us to be 24-0," Nussbaum said. "But when you look back at it one game at a time you can see how we'd win each of those games. Really, it's come down to taking it one game at a time. I know that's a cliché, but that's what they've been doing."
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