Stranding 6 runners over the first 3 innings, St. Charles North's softball team found itself in an early 2-2 deadlock with Geneva Tuesday afternoon.
Knowing that his team had at least 4 more innings worth of at-bats remaining, North Stars coach Tom Poulin wasn't overly concerned.
"I thought it was just a matter of time," said Poulin. "We had at-bats that were thinking at-bats. I heard the girls talking about what they were seeing (the first time around). That's what we want."
In the fourth, the North Stars (15-6, 11-2) finally broke through with 4 runs on 5 hits en route to a 7-2 Upstate Eight Conference River Division triumph over the Vikings (13-8, 6-5) in St. Charles.
St. Charles North flashed its team speed as Andrea Beal walked on 4 pitches to lead off the fourth and raced all the way around to third on Sabrina Rabin's bunt single.
Mickey Goetz then delivered an RBI single through the middle to give the North Stars a 3-2 lead. Moments later, Goetz stole second and Rabin (2-for-4, 3 stolen bases) scored to make it 4-2 when the catcher's throw tipped off the infielder's glove into center field.
"When she gets on, good things happen," Poulin said of Rabin. "I would love to see the percentages over the last three years when she gets on base early in an inning. I'm pretty sure it's an impressive percentage (of the time) that we score."
It also helps that Beal has above-average speed as the North Stars' second leadoff hitter from the 9-hole.
"She's the best 9 hitter I've seen in a long time," said Poulin. "She should be somewhere else but she's comfortable there."
After Abby Howlett's infield single, junior Erin Nemetz (2-for-4) smacked a 2-run single to up the North Stars' lead to 6-2.
St. Charles North added an insurance run in the sixth as Kaitlyn Waslawski (3-for-4) singled, stole second and raced home on Delaney Olinger's RBI double to the gap in right-center.
Despite stranding 11 runners, the North Stars pounded out 12 hits and stole 6 bases.
"The aggressiveness is what we've been preaching since we were in the gym and it was 10-below," said Poulin. "With all this speed we have, if we get thrown out trying to be aggressive taking extra bases we're going to live with that."
Emily Plocinski, who came on in relief of Rachel Fanella in the fourth, suffered the loss for the Vikings.
"They got some people on right away that inning and we were sort of on our heels there," said Vikings coach Greg Dierks.
Rabin (10-5) survived a 1 1/4-hour lightning delay at the outset to toss a complete game, including a 3-pitch seventh inning to close out the contest.
"I thought she got stronger as the game went on," Poulin said of his ace. "The ball started to jump there in the fifth, sixth and seventh."
"I needed to make them swing at the pitches I want to throw," said Rabin, who relied more on her change-up in the latter innings. "If they're hitting it, you've got to try mixing it up."
Freshman Annika Radabaugh belted a solo home run over the 210-foot mark in straightaway center to lead off the second, while classmate Molly Wrenn added an RBI single in the third for the Vikings.
"Honestly, I felt like we played pretty well today," said Dierks, whose team will face the North Stars again Friday in Geneva. "I felt like we had good swings all day. That was probably as good an approach at the plate as we've had against her (Rabin)."