It didn't take very long for Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum to get a sense that Wednesday just might not be a great day for his Redhawks.
With rival Naperville North at Naperville Central to play the conference finale, Huskies leadoff hitter Kailee Budicin hit a tough pitch from Keegan Hayes just out of the reach of the first baseman for a single to right field. Budicin came around to score as the Huskies took a 2-0 lead en route to a 6-2 win that forces Naperville Central to share the DVC title with Glenbard North at 12-2. Glenbard North completed its conference schedule with an 8-0 victory against Wheaton North.
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Huskies sophomore pitcher Alex Hanselman blanked the Redhawks for five innings . Meanwhile Naperville North built a 6-0 lead before eventually allowing single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Hanselman improved to 7-2 on the year.
"This is the best feeling. I love it," the left-handed pitcher said. "It was a little shaky there a few times when I missed my spots, but I was able to come back and whenever I was down my defense backed me up."
It also helped that the Huskies, who were 1-hit by Hayes (13-5) in a 7-1 loss earlier this month, scored twice in the first and third innings to build a 4-0 lead early. Budicin, who was 2-for-3 with a walk, then tripled in two more runs in the fourth off reliever Julie Kestas and it was 6-0 Naperville North.
"We wanted to be the spoiler team," the Huskies senior catcher said. "We knew they had a chance to be flat-out (DVC) winners, and that was our goal. The last game I think the score didn't show how close that game was. We came out and wanted to get a good win today."
The Redhawks did get 7 hits off Hanselman, including 5 doubles, but even while the leadoff hitter reached three times in the first five innings, they couldn't hit the scoreboard until Megan Nerger's double scored Lisa Tassi in the sixth to make it 6-1. Lindsay Gonzalez singled home another run in the seventh, but Hanselman wrapped up her complete-game win by retiring the next two batters.
"With the very first batter of the game, I thought Keegan made a great pitch and their leadoff hitter fights it off and lines it over our first baseman's head and I kinda thought, even with just that that we're not in a for a good day here," said Nussbaum, whose team dropped to 24-6 but has won the DVC a second straight season. "They're a good team and the bottom line is they played really, really well today. We didn't play bad … but their pitcher was successful in spreading out our offense."
Naperville North coach Jerry Kedziora said it was key to score early, especially after his team didn't mount much of an offense the last time it faced the Redhawks. With the win the Huskies finished 9-5 and third on the DVC and will look for win No. 20 Thursday against Rosary
"That's a big thing," he said about scoring early and then adding on. "Taking them out of their game and now they've got to chase. It takes them out of their mindset. I'm pretty excited that we were able to get to Keegan early. We caught a couple breaks with their defense, but we hit the ball hard today."