After the Aurora Central Catholic softball team prevailed over Walther Lutheran 12-0 on Thursday in the second semifinal of the Class 2A Lisle sectional, Chargers coach Jim Hallahan was reminded that his team was just two wins from reaching state.
"We're taking it one game at a time," he said happily.
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And why not? The Chargers (13-14) are having fun this postseason and are typical of many teams this time of year -- they hit their stride at the perfect time.
Up next for Aurora Central is Chicago's Gordon Tech in the sectional final at 11 a.m. on Saturday back at Benedictine University in Lisle. Gordon Tech prevailed over Lake Forest's Woodlands Academy in the first semifinal.
The Chargers, seeded fourth out of five teams at their own regional, started the postseason with a 10-0 win over fifth-seeded St. Joseph and then sent top-seeded Lisle home 5-4 in regional semifinal play and then won a regional title over second-seeded Immaculate Conception 2-1.
"I think Lisle and IC looked past us based on what they did against us during the regular season," Hallahan said. "The girls have really turned it on the past two-and-a-half weeks."
Defense has been key to Aurora Central's fortunes and Thursday was no exception. Winning pitcher Paige Miller, a freshman, allowed just one hit and struck out three. But just as important, her efforts led to the Broncos hitting just one ball out of the infield during her time on the mound.
"I thought I did pretty good. I was hitting my spots. And my teammates were good on the defensive grabs," she said.
The outcome of this game was answered early on as the Chargers tagged the Broncos, who also won a regional title being a fourth seed in a five-team regional, for six runs in the second inning for a 7-0 lead.
Aurora Central scored three runs in the third and two in the fourth to wrap things up. The Chargers finished with six hits and took advantage of five Walther Lutheran errors and seven walks given up by Bronco pitching.
Miller had the big hit of the afternoon, a third inning double to the center field fence that scored two.
Teammate Gabi Alfaro also had a big afternoon, finishing with three RBI courtesy of a single and two sacrifice flys. Allie Lundquist doubled home a run in the second and catcher Andrea Bieritz connected on an RBI single in the fourth.
Emma Baxter pitched the fifth for Aurora Central to wrap things up. She faced just three batters.