The Bolingbrook softball team, seeded ninth in the Class 4A Oswego East sectional, shook that sectional up big-time Saturday with an upset of top-seeded and 30-win Benet.
So fourth-seeded Naperville Central had another big challenge in front of it when the Redhawks and Raiders met Tuesday in the first sectional semifinal.
But there were no surprises for Naperville Central (27-7), and a 3-run fifth inning helped the Redhawks prevail 6-1 and advance to the 11 a.m. Saturday final against the winner of Wednesday's second semifinal between second-seeded Downers Grove South and third-seeded Downers Grove North.
"We played Bolingbrook earlier in the season and it was a close game. We knew their pitcher (junior Megan Lotarski) was good and that we definitely had to bring our game and step up," said Redhawks junior Lisa Tassi, who finished with 2 RBI, including a run-scoring double in the fifth.
Naperville Central won the regular-season meeting 4-0 with the help of a 2-run homer from Maddi Doane.
"After 5½ innings we were only ahead 2-0 only because Maddi hit a ball 220 feet that was fair by only a foot," said Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum. "We knew their pitcher was good. Both the last two teams they faced had the lead over them, but they let (the Raiders) hang around."
Lotarski allowed just 4 Naperville Central hits, but the Redhawks were aided by 5 Bolingbrook errors, 3 of which led to 3 unearned runs.
The Redhawks scored first in their half of the first when Doane doubled to left and with one out, came home on Tassi's groundout.
Naperville Central made it 2-0 in the third when Courtney Giebel walked and made it around the bases on two consecutive throwing errors.
Bolingbrook (19-12) got on the scoreboard the following inning. With one out Olivia Simpson reached on a fielding error and scored on Brie Smith's double.
Winning pitcher Keegan Hayes allowed six hits and struck out 4.
"We did our fair share of research on Bolingbrook. They had been on a hitting tear," Hayes said. "We went inside because they had been getting outside pitches. They're aggressive hitters."
The Redhawks put the game on ice by scoring 4 runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Giebel led off the fifth by reaching on a fielding error, moved to second on Doane's sacrifice fly and scored on another fielding error that put Kaitlyn Skarecky on base. Tassi's double followed, which scored Savanna Schmitz, who was running for Skarecky. Hayes' single scored Tassi.
Abbey Place led off the sixth inning with a walk. Meredith Siambekos, running for Place, moved to third on a fielding error and scored on Katie Lamich's sacrifice bunt.
"I know we'll be ready (for Saturday). We don't want anything to stop," Hayes said.