Softball: Wheaton North wins thriller at St. Charles East
Erin Metz battled apparent ankle discomfort in the pitching circle, but that wasn't stopping her from giving her team all she had.
Metz, Wheaton North's freshman pitcher, struck out eight and went the distance in a 10-inning game Wednesday. She also came through at the plate to help her cause, singling in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th to send the Falcons past St. Charles East 2-1 in the DuKane Conference race.
In doing so, Metz outdueled St. Charles East junior Izzy Howe, who was magnificent with a career-high 19 strikeouts in a complete game effort and was 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run to boot.
"It's incredible to see a freshman pitcher come out here with that composure," Wheaton North coach Zach Peterselli said of Metz. "And just battle every single batter against such a great team."
St. Charles East (23-6, 11-2) missed a chance to clinch the DuKane Conference title, but can do so with a victory over Batavia on Thursday. Wheaton North (19-6, 11-3) will need a Saints loss to take a share of the championship.
Howe led off the third inning with a solo home run to take the lead. Wheaton North's Lauren Vaughn hit a solo shot in the fifth to tie it, her eighth of the season.
The Saints nearly retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth after Chelsea Campagna reached on an error and Howe hit a single to put her in scoring position. Abby Arend singled to left field, but the relay in and throw from shortstop Ellie Hubbard cut Campagna down without a slide to preserve the tie.
In the 10th, Falcons freshman Monica Kading advanced to first on a dropped third strike. Kading advanced to second on a passed ball, which allowed Metz to slice an RBI single to take the 2-1 lead.
"Obviously, it's stressful going into [the at bat]. No one is scoring. I was just waiting for that pitch and hoping not to strike out obviously," Metz said.
Saints senior Elliott Sanders reached on a one-out single in the bottom of the 10th, but Metz came back to retire Kayla Richardson and Katie Arrambide on a groundout.
The Falcons concluded their regular season on a three-game win streak. The Saints have lost two straight games, and have three more regular season contests left before what could shape up to be a deeper playoff run behind Arrambide and Howe.
"[Howe's] been lights out and pitching well," St. Charles East coach Jarod Gutesha said. "She's been doing a great job for us."