Lake Zurich junior Olivia Schneider, a little lefty if there ever was one, has no lofty expectations.
"I'm little," Schneider, who stands 5 feet, 1 inch, said with a laugh. "Not growing anymore."
Funny, as Friday's North Suburban Conference Lake Division game between Lake Zurich and host Warren moved from one inning to the next, Schneider seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.
Her presence in the circle was growing, Incredible Hulk-ishly.
"It was really hard to get the pitcher down," Warren junior left fielder Jazmin Bonke said. "She had a lot of movement."
Schneider retired the first 17 batters she faced, before Bonke singled with two out in the sixth to spoil the perfect game, in what was maybe her best pitched game in high school. She settled for a 4-hitter, as Lake Zurich held on for a 3-2 win, delivering Warren a crushing loss in its attempt to successfully defend its NSC Lake title.
Facing a Warren lineup with several potent bats, Schneider struck out the first six batters she faced. She finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts and no walks.
"She came out firing the ball well," Lake Zurich coach Michaela Towne said. "She's done a great job all year and had a stellar game today."
"I was just listening to Kaylee (Grant), my catcher," said Schneider, the Bears' first-year ace. "She worked a lot around the plate, which was really good. We had a lot of stats on (Warren) so we knew what we'd be doing."
While Lake Zurich (14-8, 6-4) can't win the NSC Lake, Warren (18-6, 8-3) still can, but the Blue Devils are going to need some help. Zion-Benton (8-3) visits Mundelein (7-3) on Monday, needing a win to clinch a berth in next Thursday's NSC championship game. Warren (8-3) hosts Libertyville in its divisional finale on senior day Tuesday. Zion-Benton swept Warren, which swept Mundelein.
"This would have been a big win for us," Warren coach Tina Meyer said. "(Lake Zurich) is definitely a tough team. (The loss) just stinks."
Lake Zurich was due to win a close one. Seven of the Bears' 8 losses, including all four in the NSC Lake, have been by one run.
"If it means that we start clicking at the right time, and we start to bring it together and win those one-run games in May," Towne said, "I'll take a little slump in April."
Lake Zurich scored an unearned run off Warren starter Jenny Carpenter in the second and then took a 3-0 lead on Carlee Parsons' 2-run homer down the left-field line in the fifth. Katie Brown was aboard for Parsons' second home run of the season after reaching when her bunt wasn't fielded cleanly.
The blast by Parsons, who missed most of April with a slight tear of her MCL, was huge because Warren finally got to Schneider with two gone in the sixth. The lefty-hitting Bonke hit a line drive into left-center field, and then Megan Sowa pounded an RBI double to center.
Schneider helped get herself out of the jam by making a diving catch of a soft popup. In the Warren seventh, Megan Scott and Sam Belletini hit back-to-back singles with one out. Kelly Majewski's sacrifice fly pulled the suddenly revved-up Blue Devils within one, but Schneider got a strikeout with a high fastball to end it.
"My ball didn't move as much as I wanted it to (the last two innings)," said Schneider, who was bidding for her first no-hitter as a Bear. "But (Warren) earned the run. That's cool. It's a hard game."
Schneider's batterymate, Grant, finished 2-for-3 with a double and 2 stolen bases.
Warren was coming off a loss to Zion-Benton earlier in the week.
"We need to stay up the whole game," Bonke said. "That's what we just discussed (after the game). For it to take until the seventh inning for us to be as loud as we were is not good enough. We're a good team."
"(Lake Zurich) was up since the first inning," Meyer said. "That's what we've been struggling with this year. Even when we played Zion, we didn't get into it until it was almost the seventh inning."