Two outs away from having to settle for a doubleheader split, St. Charles East's softball team showed its late-inning resolve Saturday afternoon.
Kate Peterburs' clutch 2-out double to right-center drove in Tess Hupe with the tying run and Sarah Collalti laced an RBI single to send courtesy runner MacKenzie Meadows across the plate with the game-winning tally as the Saints (4-2) rallied for a 5-4 victory over Wheaton North (0-5), completing their nonconference doubleheader sweep.
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Hupe began the comeback with a 1-out bunt single and advanced to second on Olivia Cheatham's bunt before Peterburs delivered the game-tying double.
"Being a leadoff hitter, I'm used to having to get on," said Hupe. "I knew that was my job and I trust our lineup. We've got good hitters who will knock me around."
Late-inning magic is nothing new for the Saints, who staged a 2-out seventh-inning rally to edge Barrington 3-2 in the Class 4A state semifinals last season on the way to a second-place state finish.
"After what we did last year, we're used to playing with the pressure," said Hupe.
"There was no panic and that was good," said Saints coach Kelly Horan. "You can't press even if you're going 0-for-3 in a game. Don't panic -- you're going to get another chance. That was really evident in those last at-bats there."
Junior pitcher Alex Latoria (2-1) picked up the win, striking out 6 while scattering 7 hits and walking 5.
"I thought she battled the whole time," said Horan.
Wheaton North scored single runs in each of the first 2 innings to take a 2-0 lead, highlighted by an RBI single from Maggie Will (3-for-4, 2 runs scored).
St. Charles East answered with a 3-run second that featured a 2-run single from freshman catcher Kylee Stout and an RBI single off the bat of freshman infielder Jordan Hieber.
Wheaton North's Kat Meyer (2-for-4) led off the fifth with her second double of the game and slid across with the tying run moments later on Alyssa Quealy's RBI bunt. The Falcons grabbed a 4-3 lead in the sixth on Kelly Thornton's RBI grounder and southpaw pitcher Jessalyn Kieta kept her team in position.
"Every game we play we're getting a little better," said Falcons coach Danielle Soraghan. "A couple insurance runs would have been nice. We left a couple people on base that maybe we shouldn't have."
The Saints won the opener 9-0 behind senior pitcher Haley Beno's 3-hitter.
Beno (2-1), who recorded 9 strikeouts, worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third thanks in part to her catch of a pop bunt on the left side of the diamond.
"I think that was the defensive momentum changer," Horan said of Beno's web gem. "That's a real tough play that not all pitchers can make. When you see your pitcher pitching the ball and fielding the ball like that, it kind of gets everybody behind her going, 'hey, we've got to step it up.'"
The Saints sent 12 batters to the plate during their 7-run third that included a pair of singles and 3 RBI from Peterburs and RBI singles by Mackenzie Lofgren and Hupe, who went 4-for-4 with 2 RBI and a stolen base.
"I was much happier with the offensive approach at the plate," said Horan, whose team managed just 4 runs during Friday's doubleheader defeats against West Aurora.
"Yesterday was rough so everybody wanted to come back today and do better," said Beno. "We're feeling pretty good now."