Softball: St. Charles North's 7-run second keys win over Wheaton North

 
 
Updated 5/4/2022 8:38 PM

Already without the services of junior standout pitcher Ava Goettel due to an illness, St. Charles North's softball team suffered another setback when senior shortstop Auburn Roberson left the game after taking a bad-hop grounder off her right hand in the first inning of Wednesday's DuKane Conference contest against Wheaton North.

However, the North Stars (13-2, 8-1) persevered, thanks in part to a 7-run second inning, on their way to a convincing 10-4 victory in St. Charles.

 

Junior Leigh VandeHei came through with the key hit in the 7-run second, slicing a 3-run, opposite-field triple to left-center to give the North Stars a 4-0 lead.

"My first at-bat, they got me," VandeHei said of her first-inning strikeout. "They called one where they said I went (swung), and then I swung at a high pitch.

"On my second at-bat, I just tried to stay in my legs and not give him (umpire) a chance to call me out, but I also knew the outside (pitch) was coming. I was looking for a pitch I could drive. It felt really good."

The North Stars' leadoff hitter found herself in kind of an unfamiliar territory as she stepped into the batter's box with the bases full and 2 outs.

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"It doesn't happen often," said VandeHei, who finished 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and a stolen base.

Following an infield error that made it 5-0, Julia Larson's RBI double and Sophia Olman's run-scoring single extended the North Stars' lead to 7-0.

"We had some great at-bats," said North Stars coach Tom Poulin. "We battled through a lot of 0-2 and 1-2 counts and saw a ton of pitches."

After the Falcons (5-8, 2-7) got on the board with a pair of third-inning runs, highlighted by Erin Metz' solo home run, the North Stars answered with a 3-run fourth that included Ashlee Chantos' RBI double, Olman's 2-run single and 3 of the team's 5 stolen bases.

"We had a lot of quality at-bats, and I loved our baserunning," said Poulin. "We're trying to get more and more aggressive baserunning. If we hit a single and you come in slowly (from the outfield), we're going to be on second base -- some of us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That's all preparation for the tournament. The (sectional) seeds come out Monday, and then it's really about zeroing in on the conference championship and also zeroing in on the tournament -- understanding that we're going to need to fake bunt-double steal. At some point, we're going to have to manufacture runs."

Freshman pitcher Paige Murray, filling in for Goettel, fanned 6 and didn't allow a walk as the North Stars remain tied with Lake Park atop the DuKane standings.

"That's back-to-back games where she came out and did a really nice job," Poulin said of Murray. "The next person is stepping up. Julia (Larson) made a ton of great plays at short."

The North Stars host Lake Park and St. Charles East (7-2 in conference) next Wednesday and Thursday.

"We'll see what happens in those back-to-back games," said Poulin. "The conference championship may be decided by the end of next week."

Metz, who pitched a complete game, led the Falcons with a pair of hits and 2 RBI.

"We definitely gave them outs (in the second inning)," said Falcons coach Allie Ravanesi. "We talk about being focused on every play and preventing that big inning. We didn't do that today, and it came back to bite us."

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