Glenbard North coach Josh Sanew wasn't overly thrilled with how his team played in a couple of softball games last week, but he had no complaints Tuesday.
The Panthers erased an early 2-0 deficit at Benet to scratch and claw their way to a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning and then belted a pair of home runs to seal a 6-2 defeat of the previously unbeaten Redwings (5-1).
Pitcher Cece Dopart struck out 13 batters while blanking Benet the final six innings after allowing a pair of runs in the first inning. Her teammates, meanwhile, totaled 10 hits including back-to-back home runs by Sarah Petzold and Lauren Gramann in the top of the seventh.
"This was a huge win for us," said Sanew, whose Panthers improved to 3-2. "Benet's a great team, and the girls came out and battled. Last week we didn't play well in a couple games, but today we did a lot of good things."
Dopart, who is 2-2 on the year, has been piling up the strikeouts this spring and Tuesday in Lisle was more of the same. Benet's leadoff hitter Marissa Panko walked to start the first and after Julianne Rurka followed with an RBI double and Emily York an RBI single, it was 2-0 with no outs.
But Dopart struck out the next three batters to end the first and then limited the Redwings to just four hits the rest of the way. Benet did have a pair of runners on in the bottom of the sixth with the score 3-2 when Megan Stoppelman sent a deep fly to center, but the Panthers' Petzold made the catch to preserve the lead.
"We knew Benet was ranked real high and we were excited about the chance to play them," said Dopart, who struck out two batters in each the second, third and fourth innings. "I felt like all of my pitches were working today and my catcher Brittany (Clark) did a great job calling the game."
Glenbard North (3-2) closed to within 2-1 in the second inning after Gramann doubled off Redwings starter Molly Moran (1-1) and came around on a fielder's choice. The Panthers twice failed to cash in on bases-loaded and one-out situations but still managed to score single runs in the fifth and sixth to take the lead and then used the long ball to score three big insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
It was a two-out rally in the sixth that provided the game-winning run as Stephanie Campos doubled with two outs and then scored on freshman Kayla Quanstrom's single to left. Then in the seventh Heather Sperlazzo reached on an error and came home on Petzold's two-run shot over the fence that was followed by Gramann's blast off the scoreboard.
"We didn't play our best defense and we have to hit a little better than we did today, but give credit to Glenbard North," Benet coach Jerry Schilf said. "They hit the ball against us and their pitcher did a real nice job."