Softball: Naperville Central sweeps Willowbrook
With a strong wind gusting in from left field for much of Saturday morning's softball game at Willowbrook, Naperville Central shortstop Katlyn Allen could not have picked a better time to try and slug the other way.
The Redhawks junior opened the game's scoring with a towering, 2-run opposite-field homer to right field in the top of the first. Then she added another 2-run shot in the fourth -- this time to center -- while powering her team to an 8-2 defeat of the Warriors (9-5) in the first game of the nonconference doubleheader. Naperville Central rallied to win a wild, 14-12, extra-inning affair to complete the sweep.
"For me, that was my first opposite-field home run ever," said Allen, who has 5 homers already this spring. "Outside (pitching) is not my friend. To hit an outside home run, that was my first."
Allen's home run in a 5-run fourth inning broke a 2-2 tie and marked her first multihomer game ever. Like her first-inning shot, it was a long, high drive that didn't seem to mind Saturday's wind a bit.
"I feel like the wind was like chill for me," she said, acting as if Mother Nature was shining down on her when she stepped into the batter's box. "It just went over so nicely."
The host Warriors had drawn even at 2-2 in the third inning when pitcher Caroline Dooley crushed a 2-run double off the wall that scored Sam Mishlove and Annemarie Knudston, who had opened the inning with singles. On most days Dooley's smash to left would have sailed over the fence.
But that outburst in the third was all the Warriors mustered against Redhawks starter Halle Arends, who struck out a personal-high 15 while earning her sixth win.
"They're a good team and they definitely had a good hitting inning, but we played good defense and we just had to come together," said Arends, who was also 2-for-4 at the plate with a sacrifice bunt. "I was able to hit my spots and (assistant coach) Mike Ortiz called a great game. We work well together. It was a good day all the way around."
The Warriors finished with 6 hits against Arends, and coach Rachel Karos was not happy with a few at-bats with runners in scoring position. Four of the teams' 15 strikeouts came looking, and that included back-to-back strikeouts after Dooley had led off the sixth with her second double.
"Right now we're kind of in this syndrome of watching the third strike with runners in scoring position which we need to change," said Karos, whose Warriors (9-5) looked sharp before dropping a pair Saturday. "We're just not giving ourselves (a chance) … if you do that against a good pitcher you're going to get eaten alive every time."
Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum was thrilled with Allen and Arends, but he also credited Katie Gutshell's 3 hits and the continued strong hitting of catcher Megan Foster, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI double.
"This is the kind of team that we can be," said Nussbaum, of the Redhawks (9-10).
In the nightcap the Redhawks scored 7 runs in the seventh to erase an 11-4 deficit before prevailing 14-12 in nine innings. Arends (7-6) picked up the win after recording 7 strikeouts in three innings of relief to give her 22 for the day.