Someone in the press box said "heart of the order" as the Downers Grove South softball team headed to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning of Thursday's game against visiting Naperville Central.
Whether it was just stating a fact or expressing a premonition, the Mustangs' Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters came through big time. With the Redhawks leading 2-0, the trio started a rally and when it was over, Downers South had collected 6 runs on 7 hits and preserved their undefeated record with a 6-2 victory.
Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said it was a case of the Redhawks (6-2) not being able to continue their early hitting success of the afternoon, an absolute requirement against the Mustangs (11-0).
"We have a 2-0 lead and we don't get any insurance. We needed to hit the ball better," he said. "Downers Grove South is a good hitting team and it was just a matter of time for them."
Naperville Central scored a run each in the second and third innings. Kaitlyn Skarecky led off the second with a single to center and she moved into second on a groundball out. Skarecky was moving when Megan Nerger connected for a groundball near home plate on the first-base side. Nerger was thrown out at first, but Skarecky beat the subsequent throw to the plate. The next inning saw Maddi Doane blast a 1-2 pitch to right for a triple with two outs. Next up was Lindsay Gonzalez, who hit a double to left center that scored Doane. Keegan Hayes singled in the fourth and seventh innings for the Redhawks final two hits of the game. The team finished with 5.
The Mustangs batted around in the sixth. Melissa Orton led off with a first-pitch homer to left. A double by Caitlyn Daly brought in another run and two batters later, with runners on first and second, Megan LoBianco sent a pitch in orbit for a 3-run shot and a 5-2 lead. An RBI single by Kristen Bialek scored the final run of the inning.
"It was a thrill to be able to get one big hit to bring up the whole team," LoBianco said. "Naperville Central is great competition. Their pitchers are great and it was great playing against them."
Winning pitcher Caroline Hedgcock went the distance in getting the win and striking out two.
"It was the best game she pitched all season. She had total command and her change-up was working," said Downers South coach Ron Havelka. "Naperville Central is an outstanding team and we were fortunate to hold them to two runs. Hitting is contagious and once a couple of girls got hits in the sixth, others followed suit."