A Carpenter disguised as Harry Potter, complete with painted-on black-rimmed eyeglasses, wielded not a wand, but rather a right arm to work magic.
Way to swing your tool, Jenny Carpenter.
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Warren's softball girls did more than avenge a pair of losses to North Suburban Conference Lake Division champ Zion-Benton on Saturday. In capturing their own Class 4A regional championship with a 7-2 win over the Zee-Bees, the revved-up Blue Devils kept up the fun.
The face-makeup participants included winning pitcher Carpenter, Megan Sowa (Indian warrior), Lisiann Rodriguez (Hello Kitty), Megan Scott (Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, Batman) and Selaina Coronado (Joker). Jodie Hurd sported princess crowns on either cheek.
"It was just to pump us up," Carpenter said. "It worked for our last game (regional semifinal against Grayslake North). We had been down lately. We wanted to get into the game more. And it worked, clearly."
Standing by their dugout fence throughout the game and rarely muting themselves, especially when they were hitting, the second-seeded Blue Devils hit sophomore Kyra Lenzi of top-seeded Zion-Benton hard early. Warren pounded out all 11 of its hits in the first five innings, with Sowa literally hitting Lenzi hard in the fourth.
Her line drive smacked Lenzi on the left kneecap, ending the pitcher's day.
"Honestly, we were just pumped today," said Sowa, who finished 2-for-3 with an RBI triple, a run scored and walk, and was 8-for-11 in the three games against Z-B. "We were way more pumped than we were for the other games. We came out to win."
By winning, Warren (24-6), which was denied a regional title last season despite capturing 31 victories, earned a berth in the Prairie Ridge sectional. The Blue Devils will play McHenry in Tuesday's 4:30 p.m. semifinal in Crystal Lake.
Zion-Benton finished 26-7.
"Zion's such a good team, but we knew we could beat them," Carpenter said. "We know when we play our hardest, we can beat anybody. We were like, 'We just need to keep our energy up.' That's what's been our problem the whole year."
Carpenter, whose ability to locate and miss bats with off-speed offerings, complements the harder-throwing Jana Wagner, who pitched Warren past Grayslake North and started the two regular-season games against Zion-Benton. Carpenter allowed a leadoff single to freshman Jessica Lauret in the bottom of the first and an RBI base hit to Cindy Garces two outs later, and that was it until Stephanie Munda's one-out single in the sixth. Munda then scored on Garces' double.
Carpenter surrendered only 4 hits, while striking out six.
"Jenny pitched amazing," Sowa said. "She had some good movement on those balls, and they just couldn't touch her."
"Jenny has an amazing changeup," Warren coach Tina Meyer said. "We got (Zion-Benton's hitters) on a couple of them."
Warren got a 3-for-3 effort from ninth-place hitter Jazmin Bonke, who had 3 RBI. Her 2-run single highlighted the Blue Devils' three-run second. Like Sowa, Michelle Vasen (RBI, sacrifice bunt) was 2-for-3, while Coronado and Hurd hit hard doubles. Amy Ricci (1-for-3) and Rodriguez also had RBI.
"The girls did an amazing job," said Meyer, who participated in the dress-up spirit too by painting all of her players' uniform numbers on her polished nails.
"I'm very proud of them," the first-year coach added. "They've worked hard for this. We've been (saying) that after the (regular) season, it's a whole new season. They had a different mentality coming into it. On Thursday, they were noisy, loud, annoying, great. And the same thing today."
Zion-Benton coach Rick Rymer gave all the credit to Meyer and her program.
"She's done a great job," Rymer said. "We sniped two games from them. We played well those two games. We didn't play well today. We know what we can do. We just didn't do it in showtime, I guess you could call it."