There were bottom of the seventh inning heroics during Tuesday's St. Charles North at Neuqua Valley softball game, and they couldn't have come at a better time for the Wildcats.
With two outs senior Jamie O'Brien connected on a double that was just out of reach of a North Stars outfielder and scored Haleigh Yerkes for a 3-2 Neuqua victory in a Upstate Eight Conference crossover game.
It was the first win of the season for the Wildcats (1-4, 0-1).
"They're learning how to play together and communicate. We struggled this past weekend and we got the win today," said Neuqua coach Melissa Wilson. "I'm proud of all of them. They knew they had to bounce back and play the way they are capable of."
With one out Yerkes got the Wildcats going with single to center. Leadoff hitter Julia Huebner put a double into the right-field corner that moved Yerkes to third, setting up O'Brien's game-winning hit.
"All game I was on (St. Charles North starting pitcher Sabrina Rabin's) pitches, but I was hitting everything to them. I just had to wait for the perfect pitch," O'Brien said. "This was a big game and we knew it would be close."
The North Stars (3-1, 1-0) took a 1-0 lead in their half of the first when with two outs, Mickey Goetz singled to left followed by a walk to Abby Howlett, which put Goetz in scoring position. Emily Brodner's single to right scored Goetz.
The Wildcats tied the contest in their half of the second when Dominica Lange doubled, moved to third on Aryana DiBernardo's groundball out and scored on a fielding error that put Jessie Boudreau on base.
Neuqua's first lead came in the sixth when Colleen Hill doubled down the left field line and scored on a fielding error, making the score 2-1.
The North Stars tied the game in the seventh when Erin Nemetz led off with a walk and Abi Ginther came on to run for her. Ginther moved into scoring position on Delaney Olinger's sacrifice bunt and then to third on Andrea Beal's single to left. Rabin's sacrifice fly brought her home.
Tuesday's game also saw strong pitching. Winning pitcher Megan Bilgri allowed six hits and struck out six. Rabin went the distance and also allowed six hits and struck out three.
"I'm disappointed. We were not dialed in and not focused," said St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin. "It felt like we were thinking we could just show up and play and you can't do that. This was a good early-season lesson. In the middle innings we were taking strikes and swinging wildly at balls and that's not us."