Those St. Charles softball bragging rights St. Charles East has worked so hard to gain?
Turns out St. Charles North isn't ready to hand them over just yet. Not by a longshot.
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The North Stars put an emphatic end to the Saints' 18-game winning streak Monday, capping their 10-0 slaughter with a 5-run fifth inning highlighted by No. 9 hitter Andrea Beal's grand slam and Kaitlyn Waslawski's game-ending shot into the right-field gap.
Waslawski, who also homered, drove in Sabrina Rabin with the 10th run. The Northwestern-bound Rabin went 3-for-3 with 3 runs scored and 4 stolen bases from her leadoff spot while improving to 11-2 in the circle with a 4-hit shutout.
"We knew they were a good team so we had to be on our 'A' game," Rabin said. "I was hitting my spots, mixing it up, making sure my defense was behind me. And it helps when we hit well. It's definitely a little more relaxing. We definitely have a lot of great hitters. We have to make sure we keep putting it in play, and just really being confident in there."
The win pushed St. Charles North (14-4, 10-2) ahead of St. Charles East (21-4, 10-3) in the Upstate Eight Conference River race. The teams meet again next week on the Saints' home field.
"We're not going to make any excuses, they are a very good team, they just beat us today. They had a great attack at the plate. I don't know if there's much more to say," said Saints coach Kelly Horan who then did have something interesting to say on the Saints' perspective coming into the game against the reigning champion North Stars.
"We haven't won anything. We're not champs. We haven't done anything. They are the defending champs. They win everything, always. We haven't done anything. Yeah, we have 20 wins before May and that's wonderful, but I don't want that to be the headliner of my end of the year speech."
The North Stars scored once in the second, twice in the third and twice in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead against Saints starter Haley Beno. Horan turned to Alex Latoria in the fifth, and the North Stars scored five times to send everyone home much earlier than planned.
"I expected it to be like last season, come down to the last at-bat," North Stars coach Tom Poulin said. "It's nice to threaten every inning. I thought we did a nice job of using our speed early and then we were able to drive the ball."
Rabin made her only mistake of the game in the first inning, and it came on the bases. After stealing second and third base -- she has only been caught once this year against South Elgin -- Rabin got doubled off third base on a line drive to short by Micky Goetz.
Abby Howlett continued her red-hot hitting by lining an opposite-field double to start the second. Erin Nemitz delivered a 2-out single up the middle to score Howlett for a 1-0 lead.
Rabin opened the third inning with an infield single and stole second. Goetz drove her in with an RBI double, then she took third on Emily Brodner's single and scored on another Howlett hit to make it 3-0.
Another single and steal by Rabin in the fourth was followed by Waslawski driving a 2-run home run to left field for a 5-0 lead. It was the first home run of the year for Waslawski who returned to the lineup after being out ill late last week.
"She's a good opposite-field hitter," Poulin said. "But when she gets ahold of it she can hit the ball."
Howlett drew a four-pitch walk to ignite the North Stars' fifth-inning rally. Delaney Olinger singled and Nemitz also walked loading the bases for Beal. The junior not only cranked her home run high over the center field fence but the ball carried all the way onto the baseball field beyond it for one of the longest home runs Poulin has seen on the North Stars' home field.
"They told me that and I was like, are you serious?'" Beal said. "I was ecstatic. I knew as soon as I hit it that was a nice hit ball. I could just feel it."
Waslawski and Howlett both had 2 hits for the North Stars who got at least 1 hit from eight of their starting nine.
The Saints, meanwhile, left runners at second and third in the first inning but didn't threaten Rabin much after that. Tess Hupe doubled for one of the Saints' 4 hits.
"Our kids were prepared," Horan said. "We had runners on in the early innings and were just short that one big hit. That can do a lot as far as momentum goes. They had runners on and got that one hit and obviously hitting is contagious.
"I don't think there needs to be any extra motivation when you play St. Charles North. If anything there needs to be less. I told the kids they can think about it and be angry about it for 10 minutes on the bus ride home but we have a game tomorrow against Geneva and we can't let one loss go into two. It's done, it's over with, we'll start thinking of them (St. Charles North) maybe 3 p.m. May 14 but until then we won't. We're too busy."