For a two-time defending state champion, a 4-run deficit in the second inning is not something to get too excited about.
Glenbard South found itself trailing 4-0 under the lights at Glenbard West Friday night, but a towering home run in the fourth inning followed by a 6-run fifth inning powered the Raiders to an 8-4 win over the Hilltoppers and sends the Class 3A champs into the postseason on a high note.
Glenbard West (17-16) took advantage of a pair of errors and a questionable call by the umpires to build that 4-0 lead with just one hit off Raiders starter Taylor Carli. But Glenbard South (22-8) answered with a long blast by Ashton Cattenhead that closed the gap to 4-1 in the fourth, then exploded for six runs in the fifth to take command of the rivalry contest.
"Honestly being down motivated us more," said Cattenhead, who sent a high, long home run over the fence in left center to start the Raiders' comeback. "It motivates us to push harder, just like last year whenever we were down in the playoffs, we came back and we won. It doesn't set us back at all. It pushes us forward."
It helped that Carli (12-6) pitched a gem of a game despite the rough patch in the second inning. The Hilltoppers opened the inning with a hit batsmen and then a sacrifice bunt appeared to be kicked by the batter. But no call was made and then a throwing error on the play allowed the batter to reach safely.
A walk and a 2-run single by Emily Biederman followed and it was 4-0. But Carli blanked the Hilltoppers over the final five innings while allowing just 3 hits, limiting the hosts to 4 hits on the night.
"We really used that (second inning) to push us, to get back at our frustrations and to hit them with the bats," Carli said.
"It was even more of a motive to make the plays."
She credited her catcher Tarah Valdez, who had a 2-run single in the big fifth inning, with taking charge of the game from behind the plate.
"Tarah called a great game today and kept the hitters off balance," the Glenbard South pitcher said. "She was a wall back there. Really it was all her."
There were a number of contributors in the 6-run rally, with Valdez and Dani Scarpiniti each delivering 2-run hits, while Payton Carli, Ashley Cohen and Cattenhead each also hit safely in the inning.
"We really adjusted well today. After the first time through I felt like we really adjusted and hit well," Taylor Carli said. "The game against West is really big and it's just nice to beat the other side (of town). They're a good team. It was nice to play them before the playoffs. It really started our intensity."
Glenbard West's Taylor Langtry was sharp through four innings, striking out five and allowing just the solo homer to Cattenhead. But she didn't survive the fifth, and Hilltoppers reliever Caylin Potter took over with one out in the fifth.
"I thought we played well, we just have to continue battling," Hilltoppers coach Mary McGrane said. "We've been playing great the last couple weeks. Tonight, a bounce here or there and it would be a different story."