ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles North softball team has been beating teams lately, not overwhelming them.
On Wednesday against Geneva, the North Stars showed they’re capable of piling up offensive style points in addition to victories.
After low-scoring wins Monday against Streamwood (1-0) and Tuesday against Elgin (3-0), North’s bats boomed against the Vikings en route to a 12-3 Upstate Eight Conference River victory.
“I think we’ve been a little frustrated, hoping we can get some more runs across the board,” North first baseman Abby Howlett said. “But a win’s a win. We’re happy. We just hope that we can get some more runs.”
Wednesday was a great start.
North scored at least two runs in five of its six offensive innings as Howlett and catcher Emily Brodner led the way with three hits apiece. As a team, the North Stars piled up 14 hits while drawing five walks.
“We’ve been taking the first pitch we see instead of waiting for our pitch,” Brodner said. “I think it just took us awhile to actually realize we can wait for our pitch and hit it.”
Geneva scored three runs in the top of the third to draw within 4-3 but North (12-4, 8-2 UEC River) pulled away with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Brodner and Howlett started the inning with consecutive singles against Geneva pitcher Haley Orwig, and left fielder Delaney Olinger and center fielder Andrea Beal also singled in the inning.
North Stars coach Tom Poulin said he’d been disappointed in the lack of offensive adjustments in recent games but praised his hitters for better plans of attack on Wednesday.
“I thought today the girls were communicating what they had seen in at-bats and we were just more active mentally as batters than just going up there and hitting,” Poulin said. “We were having at-bats instead of just going up there and hitting.”
Batting ninth in the order, Beal was a spark, going 2 for 3 with a walk and two RBIs.
“I was really happy for Andrea,” Poulin said. “She’s looked great every time we take batting practice, every time we’re in the cage. I think she can be a real weapon down there with her speed and her power. We’ve batted her anywhere from 6 to 9, and she can bat up near the top, but I think she just makes us stronger down at the bottom of the lineup. If she gets hot, she’s tough. She’s a tough out.”
Orwig, coming off an eight-inning outing in an extra inning loss Tuesday against powerhouse St. Charles East, wasn’t as sharp against the North Stars, but she also was undermined by shaky defense early in the game. Geneva coach Greg Dierks said the early errors have North “a running start.”
The Vikings and North Stars are scheduled to play again Friday in Geneva. The quick turnaround can be a double-edged sword, Dierks said.
“That’s kind of up to the girls,” Dierks said. “If it’s something where they feel like this team hammered us and they can’t do it, then you don’t want to play them again that fast, but if they’re mad about it and we come back with the right approach, you can take advantage of it.
“Maybe they’ll be a little overconfident. We should be a little bit mad about this. We get a quick opportunity to fix what wasn’t right today and show that we’re better than that.”
Shortstop Anna Geary (3 for 4, double), third baseman Kirsten Searcy (two hits) and left fielder Madison Keith (two-run triple) fueled the offense for the Vikings (8-12, 4-8 UEC River).
North pitcher Sabrina Rabin (10-2) threw five innings of three-run ball before yielding to freshman Allison Hausl, who pitched two scoreless innings. Rabin added two hits offensively.
The North Stars are trying to remain focused on their daily business but the first of two showdowns with fellow UEC River contender St. Charles East – winners of 18 straight games – on Monday is certainly on their radar.
“We’re trying to take it one game at a time but that’s a big goal of ours,” Howlett said. “We know that they’ve been playing well so we’re getting ready to play them.”