Softball: Lake Park tops St. Charles East for DuKane title
The first DuKane Conference softball race came down to the final out of the final game of the season.
Lake Park shortstop Abby Rodriguez, who gave St. Charles East fits all day in the field and also delivered the biggest swing at the plate, dove to her right into the hole to stop a smash by Paige Ligocki.
Rodriguez got to her feet and quickly fired a strike across the diamond to retire Ligocki and complete a 2-0 Lancers win.
"That was just a defensive gem," said Lake Park coach Tom Mazzie, also praising the play of Alexa Frale in left field and Breanna Caper in right. "They were hitting rockets right at people."
Lake Park (21-11, 11-3) won the DuKane title by a game over St. Charles East (19-10, 10-4).
"With the new conference and everything, we wanted to be the first champion," Rodriguez said. "It's because we worked together as a team."
Natalie Grubczak tossed a 4-hit shutout. She only struck out two but walked none.
Both teams played error-free softball. Katie Arrambide was the tough-luck loser, scattering 7 hits while walking one and striking out six.
"They made a heck of a lot of good defensive plays," Saints coach Jarod Gutesha said. "They took a lot of hits away. I have no problems with our approach up there."
The only scoring came in the fourth. Frale slapped a single to third base. She raced home when Rodriguez blasted an opposite field triple to deep right with two outs.
Arrambide said she wanted to get the 0-2 pitch a little more outside.
"She (Rodriguez) did a really good job of going out and getting it," Arrambide said. "On my part I probably could have hit my spot a little further out. It wasn't supposed to be a strike."
"With runners on you are always trying to get the score," Rodriguez said. "High stress situation. I wanted to take the best hack of my life and try to get it to go right side."
Grubczak then helped herself with an RBI single up the middle to plate Rodriguez and make it 2-0.
She said it helped to have faced Arrambide earlier this season, a 9-0 Saints win in a game that Arrambide fired a 3-hit shutout.
"I told myself I'm not swinging at a high pitch, I'm not swinging at a high pitch," Grubczak said.
Only one Saint reached second base against Grubczak when Chelsea Campagna doubled with two outs in the fifth. Grubczak kept her there by retiring Izzy Howe on another fly ball to right.
Mazzie liked the way his ace worked ahead in the count.
"Compared to their place we were behind the whole time and those girls sat back and raked," Mazzie said as music blared and his team posed for photos.
"This is fun. This is what it's all about."