It might have been the best at-bat of the game for either side, and Grant's Caitlyn Moran was thrilled with her result off Wauconda's Kayla Wedl.
"I was surprised," Moran said modestly with wide eyes.
Wedl was so good and so around the plate with her pitches Thursday that the sophomore threw her first seven-inning no-hitter of the season in a 2-0 win over the visitors.
"I don't think I've been no-hit, ever," said Mike Dolezal, who's been coaching at Grant for 10 years. "We used to face great pitchers (all the time). We always squeezed out hits."
Wedl struck out 16 batters, including the side in the second, fourth and seventh.
Moran coaxed a rare walk allowed this season by Wedl by fouling off four straight pitches, after having worked the count full with two out in the sixth.
"You just got to clear your mind, choke up," Moran said of facing her pitching counterpart. "She's quick and she has movement, which is lethal. You just got to trust your hands, trust your training and hope for the best."
For the season, Wedl has 90 strikeouts vs. 2 walks.
"Moran had to really earn it on that walk," coach Tim Rennels said after his Wauconda team improved to 11-0 and 3-0 in the North Suburban Prairie Division. "(Wedl) doesn't give freebies."
While she was an all-area player last year in leading Wauconda to a Class 3A sectional championship, Wedl has clearly improved.
She also has a five-inning perfect game to her credit this season.
"My riseball got much better," said the 5-foot-7 Wedl, who's grown 2 inches since last season. "Last year my curve was my best pitch, but this year I would say it's the rise."
Grant (3-4, 2-1) hit only one ball out of the infield. After Moran led off the game by popping up a bunt, which Wedl caught, Wauconda's ace struck out the next seven batters, before Ashley Mathis popped out to lefty-throwing catcher Taylor McCarthy.
Grant didn't have a base runner until left-handed-hitting Kaitlyn Wold put down a bunt with one out in the fourth. Wedl fielded the ball cleanly but threw high and wildly to first base. The ball caromed into foul territory and Wold sped to second. But Wedl got back-to-back strikeouts, both swinging, to get out of the jam.
"I did not set my feet and my arm was all the way over here (outside)," Wedl said of her throwing error. "It was a big sidearm throw."
Both Wauconda runs came compliments of -- guess who -- Wedl. After Moran walked leadoff hitter Lauren Nee in the bottom of the first and McCarthy bunted Nee to second, Wedl boomed a triple to the gap in right-center.
Then in the third, with McCarthy on first base with a one-out single, Wedl roped a Moran pitch into right field. The ball skipped to the fence, and Wedl raced to third with her second RBI triple.
Moran allowed only 3 hits, struck out 11 and walked only one in her 6 innings. With Wedl on third and one out in the first, the three-year varsity pitcher got back-to-back strikeouts.
"We're a tight-knit group," Moran said. "I trust (my teammates). I know we'll make mental and physical errors, but as long as we don't lose the mental aspect of the game, we can compete with anyone."
Grant and Wauconda split last season, with Wauconda also winning the first meeting. Rennels said he didn't discuss with his team that it was facing the defending NSC champions.
"There was a reason why they were conference champs," Rennels said. "We knew what (Moran) threw. We knew the troubles we had last year, and we were trying to make some changes."
In the end, Wedl simply prevailed in a pitchers duel.
"She looks like an all-star," Dolezal said. "She moves the ball around a lot. I thought Caitlyn pitched a great game too."