Glenbard North got timely hits and a strong pitching effort from Cece Dopart to defeat the Oak Park-River Forest 4-0 in the Class 4A supersectional on a chilly Monday night in Rosemont.
Dopart helped the team offensively with an RBI to open the scoring in the fourth inning. With the game scoreless the Panthers put three singles together by Heather Sperlazzo, Kayla Quanstrum and Dopart, whose hit allowed Sperlazzo to score to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
"I just wanted to make sure all my pitches were perfect," Dopart said, "and to make sure they didn't score because we only had a one-run lead at that time."
Sarah Petzold added a two-run triple to highlight a three-run seventh to seal the win.
"I was looking for a ball I could hit," Petzold said. "I swung at the first pitch. (Huskies pitcher Emma Baldwin) was throwing hard. She has decent speed. But it wasn't like anything I haven't seen before. I was really confident at the plate."
"Getting those three runs in the seventh was huge," said Panthers coach Josh Sanew. "It takes all the weight off the shoulders and lets you play a little relaxed in the seventh. It takes that pressure off, especially after battling out of that sixth inning with the bases loaded and their 3 hitter up ... It was just a great game between two hot teams out here today."
"It just shows you the fight these kids have. They never say die. They just compete. Cece was unbelievable. It was a great performance all around."
Dopart (26-4) was in command all the way. She pitched out of two bases-loaded jams in the third and sixth innings. With only one out in each situation, Dopart put down the last two batters to end the innings. The Huskies stranded a total of 12 runners.
"We left a lot of baserunners on base," said Huskies coach Mel Kolbusz. "We have been hitting the ball well all year. We just couldn't get big hits tonight when we needed them ... give credit to that pitcher because she did a really nice job."
The Panthers (30-5) move on to face Warren in the state semifinals on Friday in East Peoria. This is the first time since 2001 they are headed downstate.
"It feels amazing to have a chance to go downstate with this team. I'm really proud of them. We are doing really well this season," Dopart said.
The Huskies finished the season with a 27-10 record.