Softball: Naperville Central beats Metea Valley

By D.J. Wanberg
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/26/2019 1:42 PM

It was the type of high school softball game that shouted out that the conference race is well underway. It was the type of game that shouted out that it wouldn't be decided until the end or close to it.

Host Naperville Central prevailed against Metea Valley 7-4 on Thursday.

"Any win is a good win at this time of the season," said Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum. "Metea stayed with it and did not quit. They did not go away and I admire that in them. Fortunately, we were able to answer them every time."

The victory pushed Naperville Central to 10-10 overall and 2-1 in the DuPage Valley Conference. The Redhawks have four straight games and lead 10-2 against Waubonsie Valley in a game suspended because of Monday's stormy weather.

Naperville Central struck first in the opening inning. Katie Gutsell reached on an infield hit with Jacqui Abogado's single to center scoring her.

In the second inning Olivia Balaun singled to left with one out and winning pitcher Halle Arends connected on a single to right to drive her in.

Metea (9-7, 1-4) responded with in its half of the third with a big rally. It all came with two outs.

Navaeh Cruz reached on a fielding error and Rissa Bajusz walked and that set the stage for Libby Eichberger, who brought both home thanks to her triple to center.

Emily Finger followed with a single to center that scored Eichberger and the Mustangs had a 3-2 advantage.

"Libby has been hitting well the past two days. She gets in there, sees what the defense gives her and adjusts her swing," said Metea coach Kris Kalivas. "Emily has been a stalwart in the lineup her whole career."

Eichberger is a sophomore, Finger is a senior.

The bottom of the third saw a successful hitting day for Naperville Central's Jacqui Abogado continue when she sent a 3-1 pitch packing. Anne Saran doubled to right and Megan Jech scored her on a sacrifice fly to put the Redhawks back ahead 4-3.

Metea tied the contest at 4 in the fifth. Cruz was hit by a pitch and scored on a fielding error.

Abogado led off for the Redhawks in the bottom of the fifth when she smashed her second homer on a 1-2 pitch.

"With the first pitcher the pitches were a little bit slow. The second pitcher had a little more spin and was a little faster. But regardless, I wanted to hit," Abogado said.

Later that inning, Naperville Central made it 6-4 when Riley Pavelka singled and Balaun's infield hit scored her.

The final run for the Redhawks came in the sixth. Arends led off with a double and Katlyn Allen's single drove her in.

Arends finished with 3 hits and reached base four times. She struck out 10 for the win.

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