EAST PEORIA -- Sydney Benz had one final game leadoff at-bat for Glenbard North.
"You can't start a game with a strikeout, a groundout," Benz said. "It's too emotionally draining."
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Benz opened the Panthers' third-place Class 4A softball game against Lincoln-Way East with a double to right center.
Juniors Stephanie Campos and Sarah Petzold followed with solid basehits as Glenbard North scored early and never looked back in its 6-0 victory Saturday afternoon at Eastside Centre.
Cece Dopart went the distance for Glenard North to earn her 27th win on the season against 5 losses in her final appearance for the Panthers.
"All of my pitches were working well today," Dopart said. "I just wanted to come out and do what I have been doing all year."
Dopart allowed only 3 hits and four total baserunners on the day.
The early run support did not hurt.
Heather Sperlazzo had run-scoring at-bats during her opening pair of plate appearances for Glenbard North (31-6).
The senior scored Campos with a sacrifice fly in the first inning to double the Panthers' lead to 2-0, and she hit a bases-loaded infield single as part of a 4-run third that closed out the scoring.
"Seeing that we had people on, I wanted to do whatever I could to get them in," Sperlazzo said.
"We like to score early and often, and that's what we did today."
Campos and Petzold were once again the catalysts to the third-inning assault that more or less clinched the Panthers' first third-place trophy since the 2001 Class AA contingent.
The two doubled -- Campos was forced to hold at third -- to lead off the third, and the bases were soon loaded on an infield misplay.
Sperlazza increased the lead to 3-0, and freshman Kayla Quanstrum followed suit with another RBI single.
Dopart then aided her own cause with a sacrifice fly, and Sperlazzo scored the final run on an errant throw to the plate.
The Panthers' defensive efficiency and the equally dependable Dopart allowed coach Josh Sanew to substitute liberally over the final stages of the game.
The multiple baserunners left stranded after the third inning -- Glenbard North was never retired in order -- was irrelevant as Mariah Roman, Abby Paragon, Casey Boland and Jessi Ewald all appeared as pinch-hitters.
"We wanted to come out and show how we play ball," Sanew said. "Everybody got a chance to play today. That's how we got here -- as a team. We had the ride of our lives."
"We took the momentum from the last inning (against Warren on Friday) and rolled it over to today," Benz said.
Alex Caliva, Lauren Gramann, Jessi Ewald, Brittany Clark, Benz, Dopart and Sperlazzo played their final game for the Panthers.
Lincoln-Way East (27-11) almost duplicated its Southwest Suburban Blue Conference result at the state tournament.
Sandburg was fifth in the same league, only to fall 8-4 to Warren in the Class 4A championship game.
"It's a testament to our conference," Lincoln-Way East coach Elizabeth Pawlicki said. "I think it's different when you play for third and fourth place, mentality-wise."
In the Class 3A championship game, Chatham-Glenwood erupted for 6 runs over the final two innings to hand Manteno only its second loss of the season, 7-2.