Softball: St. Charles East blanks Addison Trail for 6th straight regional title
St. Charles East's softball team is heading back home.
And that's a good thing.
The top-seeded Saints (25-6) captured their sixth consecutive Class 4A regional championship with Friday's 10-0, 6-inning triumph over 8th-seeded Addison Trail (21-8) in Bartlett.
With the victory, St. Charles East earned a spot in its own sectional tournament and will face 6th-seeded Glenbard North Tuesday afternoon.
"We get to go back home," said Saints coach Jarod Gutesha, whose team earned a pair of narrow victories over Glenbard North (4-1 on April 21; 3-2 on May 4) during the regular season.
"The kids -- they work hard for this. They put the time and energy into things. This is the first step in the postseason process."
Saints senior pitcher Izzy Howe, who tossed a 2-hit complete game with 12 strikeouts, didn't allow a base hit until the sixth inning when Blazers junior Kylie Fiermuga led off the frame with an opposite-field single through the left side of the infield.
"It was sneaky," said Gutesha. "When the ball went through, I realized it was the first hit she (Howe) gave up.
"She was great as usual. Her and Sam (catcher Gaca) have worked well together all year long. It was nice to see."
Howe, who struck out the side in the top of the first, recorded 10 strikeouts through the first 4 innings.
"I just tried to focus on hitting my spots," she said. "I tried to keep calm and throw to my awesome catcher (Gaca)."
The Saints grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second without the benefit of a hit, as Cici Wilson was hit by a pitch and eventually advanced to third before scoring when Katie Morgan walked off first and got caught in a rundown -- she returned safely back to first on the play.
In the third, Nikki Johnston's 1-out triple -- the game's first hit -- resulted in the Saints' second run on Gaca's sacrifice fly.
Addison Trail senior pitcher Madison Domek held the Saints scoreless in the fourth, thanks in part to freshman right fielder Erin Parker's on-the-money throw to the plate that nailed Wilson at home for an inning-ending double play.
However, the Saints added some breathing room with a 5-run fifth, benefiting from three Addison Trail fielding miscues and Wilson's 2-run single along with an RBI single from Chloe Hild (2-for-3).
"We had a little defensive breakdown that one inning," said Blazers coach Mark Olson. "You can't do that against good teams.
"They've got a solid pitcher there (Howe), and we didn't put much bat on the ball. But I thought our girls battled and gave great effort all the way through."
After Howe's RBI single upped the Saints' lead to 8-0 in the sixth, Wilson (2-for-2, 4 RBI) delivered a 2-run single to end the game.
"I love supporting my team and helping them in any way I can," said Wilson, who served as the designated hitter. "I wasn't fielding today but I made up for it with my hitting."
Domek and starting center fielder Gia Napoli finished their prep careers for the Blazers, who started 6 freshmen in the field.
"We've talked to them (seniors) about how each class leaves a legacy, and I think they've left it better than when they started," said Olson. "It's a special group, and I'm proud of them."