Softball: Arrambide, Wooten lead St. Charles East to first sectional since 2013
Katie Arrambide hasn't quite called her shot yet, but St. Charles East's sophomore ace is getting closer every game the Saints win.
When St. Charles East lost a hard-fought 2-0 game to Lake Park on May 15 to give the Lancers the DuKane Conference championship, a determined Arrambide said the Saints wouldn't lose again.
St. Charles East is not only proving her correct, the Saints got a chance at payback against those same Lancers on Friday in the Class 4A Glenbard West sectional championship game. Arrambide overcame one mistake, senior Alex Wooten delivered a clutch 2-run single, and the Saints rallied for a 4-3 win in front of a big turnout from both fan bases.
St. Charles East (24-10) will play Whitney Young, a 2-1 winner over Oak Park, in the Class 4A Rosemont supersectional at 6 p.m. Monday.
"The kids wanted it," Saints coach Jarod Gutesha said. "We've been in the sectional four years in a row. To be able to move on and play for the supersectional Monday, that's something special."
The Saints won their first sectional title since their 2013 team finished second in state. Their only other sectional crown came in 1994.
"We all said we were going to make it this far but having it happen in reality is just crazy," Wooten said.
Lake Park played flawless defense in its previous win over the Saints. But the Lancers got off to a bad start Friday with a two-base error on Krista Sbarra's grounder to start the bottom of the first.
Arrambide singled to right and the ball got past the right fielder to allow Sbarra to score for a 1-0 lead. Wooten followed with a flare to right that dropped in for an RBI single and a 2-0 lead.
Arrambide made that stand up until the fifth. A walk started the inning before the Saints made their only error on a bunt, putting runners at second and third.
Lake Park leadoff hitter Alyssa Sturino made the Saints pay, driving an 0-2 drop curve over the left-field fence for a 3-run homer and 3-2 lead.
St. Charles East quickly responded in the bottom of the fifth. Two hit batters and another single by Arrambide loaded the bases for Wooten who hit a hard grounder between short and third to drive in two runs and put the Saints back up 4-3.
"We have a saying '10 and 2' like driving," Wooten said of the reaction to Sturino's homer. "Take a deep breath, go back to normal and do what you can. I wanted to hit it on the ground so I kept my front elbow down."
Lake Park threatened in the sixth. Sbarra made a key catch in right field on a liner that nearly went over her head, reaching up to barely snag the ball. With a runner at second base and two outs, Breanna Caper singled up the middle. Saints center fielder Maddy Stout fielded the ball and fired home, and Lake Park held the runner at third. Arrambide then ended the threat getting a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch.
"We have played them three times now and they know Maddy has a great arm," Gutesha said.
Abby Rodriguez singled with one out in the seventh for Lake Park, but Arrambide ended the game getting a groundout and her 10th strikeout, again looking. Five of her strikeouts were of the backward K variety.
"I was really focusing on hitting corners and not giving them anything too good," Arrambide said.
"You've got some girls who can spin it," Lancers coach Tom Mazzie said. "If it's close you have to take a swing."
Wooten led the Saints at the plate going 2-for-3 with 3 RBI against Natalie Grubczak. Arrambide also had 2 hits, Stout added a single and that was all Grubczak allowed.
Lake Park finished the season 24-12 with the first DuKane Conference title.
"These girls were super resilient all year," Mazzie said. "To go down 2-0 and come back, that's just how we've been. St. Charles East was just a little better today. If we are going down to somebody that's a very deserving and well fought game. At the end of the day two great softball teams, you expect it to be a one-run game, it's a one-run game."