Tess Hupe did her job as a leadoff hitter to perfection for St. Charles East on Saturday.
The senior reached base all 4 times at the plate, scored 3 runs, and drove in another to spark the Saints to a 9-5 win over Bartlett in Upstate Eight Conference crossover action.
St. Charles East (13-3) remains undefeated at 6-0 atop the UEC River Division.
Hupe set the tone early. In the first inning her speed from the left side of the box forced a throwing error by Bartlett shortstop Kayla Haberstich, allowing Hupe to reach safely.
That opened the door to a 4-run inning for the Saints. Olivia Cheatham followed with a bunt single. Kate Petersburs then drove in both Hupe and Cheatham with a 2-run double to the gap in left-center. Alex Latoria and Katie Kolb added RBI singles in the rally.
St. Charles East tacked on 3 more runs in the second inning to go up 7-2. Once again it was Hupe setting the table with a leadoff single.
She also led off the third inning with a bunt single and later scored. In the fourth inning Hupe drove in a run with a single to extend the Saints' lead to 9-4.
"When I get on base it gets everybody going on the bench," Hupe said. "They get really loud. That's my goal. I want to get on base every time to give the team that boost. We came out ready today with a lot of energy. We had that mentality of attacking the ball."
The Saints pounded out 12 hits. Cheatham delivered the big blow in the second inning with a 2-run single. Sarah Collalti drove in runs in the second and third innings, reaching on a fielder's choice groundball both times.
"We got it started right from the beginning," St. Charles East coach Kelly Horan said. "I think we recognized right away that it was a tight zone being called, so we were going to have to be selective. I thought we were real disciplined and did a good job of hitting strikes. It really helps when you have players like Tess and Olivia at the top of the order to set the table."
Senior Haley Beno pitched the first 3 innings for the Saints to pick up the win and improve to 7-2. She allowed 2 runs on 5 hits. Latoria came on in relief to pitch the final 4 innings. She surrendered 3 unearned runs.
"We have confidence in both of our pitchers," Horan said. "We wanted to keep Haley's pitch count down and I thought Alex came in and did a great job for us."
Bartlett (9-4, 3-2) scored a pair of runs in the top of the second inning on an RBI double by Lauren Janczak and an RBI single from Katie Fornoff to get to within 4-2, but couldn't keep pace with the Saints' offense. Janczak had a pair of doubles and scored 2 runs. Starting pitcher Holly Pagan went the distance and took the loss for the Hawks.
"A big key against them is to keep Tess off the bases," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. "And we didn't do that. We didn't come out focused in that first inning and let them punch us in the mouth before we responded."