Softball: Antioch’s power, pitching keys win over St. Charles North

After rain wreaked havoc on the Chicagoland area Friday afternoon, it was treated to another heavy downpour; albeit temporary; during the overnight hours early Saturday morning.

Fortunately at Antioch's home softball diamond, McMillen Field, it has an infield comprised of a Quickpitch Red Limestone dirt mix that drains rain fast allowing for a relatively dry playing surface.

"I've seen it (the field) after it's rained worse," Antioch coach Anthony Rocco said prior to hosting a triple header involving DuKane Conference front-runner St. Charles North and Metro Suburban leader Ridgewood Saturday morning.

His squad also is looking good as it swept both of their contests first beating the North Stars 3-1 and then defeating Ridgewood 14-5 to move its record to 16-3 on the spring.

In game one, Antioch got a complete game three-hitter from senior ace Jacey Schuler as she fanned 13 including the final out in the top of the seventh as North had the tying runs at first and second.

Schuler, a Michigan State recruit, talked about successfully negotiating winds that gusted as much as 25 MPH to earn the win.

"In the beginning, I was throwing a lot of high and inside pitches and I could see they were fouling it off, so I started going more outside just depending on the wind, so it definitely helped."

Schuler would help her cause when she connected for a solo homer off Paige Murray. That put the finishing touches on a 3-run outburst that would become all that the home team needed.

The decisive inning took hold on back-to-back homers from left fielder Aubrey Donovan and center fielder Tegan Schuler that put Antioch ahead to stay.

"Seeing those two before me really built my energy,“ Jacey Schuler said. ”Just had a lot of adrenaline at that moment when I did it. It was so exciting.“

"She's the type who has transformed the program (and) taken us to a whole new level," Rocco said.

St. Charles North (11-3), who bounced back to trounce the Rebels (6-10) 16-5 in five innings, got a solo dinger from catcher Skylar Ritter in the fifth and a complete game from Murray as she struck out eight while allowing just six hits.

"We got better today and that's why we made the drive to face quality competition," North Stars coach Tom Poulin said. "The first game was just a great pitcher's battle. Two of the better ones that you're going to see. She (Schuler) is as good as anybody we'll face . They had a couple of more (go) over the fence than we did, but I thought we had quality at-bats."

Rocco echoes the reason his team who currently stands in first place in the Northern Lake County Conference plays a nonconference slate. The schedule includes current DuKane Conference leader Wheaton North, Rockton Hononegah, Richmond-Burton, and Class 2A state-ranked Beecher.

"Last year we played a lot of the top teams in the state,“ Rocco said. ”This year we're off to a good start. We just challenge ourselves to play the best teams possible outside of the NLCC. That's where we got to do it at. That's our goal-to play the best competition."

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