Naperville North coach Jerry Kedziora was surprised to find himself in a scoreless game in the fourth inning, but he was not so surprised to eventually see runs come in bunches.
After a wild 15-14 loss to Benet on Wednesday, the hot-hitting Huskies were in the middle of a pitcher's duel the next day before busting out for six runs in the fourth inning at Neuqua Valley and then holding on for a thrilling 7-6 defeat of the Wildcats.
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Neuqua Valley (5-6) made a pair of costly errors in the fateful fourth, but Huskies Dani Biesiada, Rachel Airado and Maddie Vassar each lined sharp singles in the inning before leadoff hitter Alexis Solak capped off the big inning with a grand slam over the left-field fence.
"That's our first pitchers' duel for four innings in awhile. That hasn't happened yet this year," Kedziora said.
"It's amazing what happens when the wind dies down."
What happened was Solak jumped on a first pitch and blasted the ball over the fence for her third home run of the spring, her first with the bases full.
"It was actually a first pitch off speed and my coach was telling me that's how they first pitch," the Huskies shortstop said. "Our pitcher (Biesiada) was doing a good job holding them and so was their pitcher. So it was good for us to get a few guys on and get a big one."
Wildcats pitcher Megan Bilgri blanked Naperville North (4-2) for three innings and only a pair of errors allowed Solak the chance to bat with the bases loaded in the innings. Reliever Molly Price pitched the final three innings and enabled the hosts to make things interesting by allowing just one run while Neuqua countered with 3-run innings in both the fifth and sixth innings and came oh so close to tallying more.
"It was a fun game. It was an interesting game, but it was exciting," said Wildcats coach Melissa Wilson, whose team plays again at 10 a.m. Friday at Larkin. "Softball is a really interesting game, especially nowadays. When you have six runs against a team you think it's enough, but it's not. That's what I told my girls. Something that makes me excited is that we didn't give up and we fought back."
The Wildcats got a 3-run homer off the bat of Colleen Hill in the fifth to make it 6-3, but freshman Vassar smacked a solo shot over the wall in center field in the top of the sixth for what proved to big a very big insurance run for the visitors.
Neuqua leadoff hitter Julia Huebner then had a bases-clearing double in the sixth to make it a 7-6 game, but despite more threats in the sixth and the seventh, the Wildcats could not draw even as reliever Casey Rechenmacher earned the save for the Huskies.
"I feel like the team has a lot of confidence," Solak said after Naperville North registered 9 hits. "We're hitting the ball and we feel like we can get quality at-bats every time."