Only the weather could put the brakes on the biggest softball series this season in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division.
Although lightning delayed and then put an end to Monday's St. Francis at Montini rematch, it was an official game and the first-place Broncos won 7-3 to take a two-game lead over the Spartans in the SCC Blue race and clinched at least a share of the league crown.
Montini had won at St. Francis on Thursday 4-0.
With the Broncos ahead 7-3 with one out in the bottom of the sixth, the game was delayed at about 5:50 p.m. when lightning was spotted. As the lightning increased, fans were asked to go to their cars and the teams were told to stay in their dugouts. After a wait of about 55 minutes and the sky still ominous in the north and northeast, the game was called.
Both teams enjoyed being part of this pair of late-season contests in a hotly contested race.
"It was great playing for conference over the last four days. All you can ask is to be in control," said Montini coach Richie Costante. "We'll win it outright if we win one of our last two."
The Broncos (19-5, 14-0) last won a conference title in 2010 when they shared it with St. Francis. The Spartans have won at least a share of a league championship for five straight seasons.
"We are two of the best teams, and Montini played a better game than we did today," said St. Francis coach Ralph Remus. "You don't like to lose, but there's no shame. Montini is a good team."
Montini returns to league action Wednesday hosting St. Edward, and then Wheaton Academy comes to Lombard on Monday to close out conference play for the Broncos. For the Spartans, they are at Walther Christian on Tuesday, at Rosary on Wednesday and then play host to St. Edward on May 22.
St. Francis (18-4, 11-2) wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard. The game's second hitter, Janie Smith, smashed her first of two home runs for the game to give the Spartans a 1-0 advantage.
She struck again in the third. Leadoff hitter Carley Pasquale walked, bringing Smith to the plate again. With a 1-2 count, she sent a pitch into orbit that cleared the gap between the softball field and the baseball field next to it and went over the baseball field's center-field fence.
"That was one long ball. That cleared the fence by 50 feet," Remus said.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, that would be it for scoring. The team had only three baserunners after the third inning and just 2 hits.
Picking up the win for Montini was Lauren Trojnar, who improved her record to 13-2. She allowed 6 hits and struck out 4 in six innings of work.
Montini led 4-3 after three innings thanks to an RBI single by Emily Lezcano in the first, a run-scoring triple from Tacia Mesina in the secondand a 2-run homer in the third by Alyssa Sclafani.
"We scored in every inning. Our mindset is if we win every inning, it's mathematically impossible to lose," Costante said.
The Broncos cushioned their lead in the fourth scoring two runs courtesy of an RBI double from Trojnar and a run-scoring triple from Isabell Alexander. Two St. Francis fielding errors led to Montini's final run in the fifth.