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North softball smashes streaking East

St. Charles North's Andrea Beal (3) is bombarded by her teammates after hitting a grand slam Monday during their five-inning 10-0 win at home against St. Charles East.
St. Charles North's Andrea Beal (3) is bombarded by her teammates after hitting a grand slam Monday during their five-inning 10-0 win at home against St. Charles East.

ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles North softball team didn't just cool off St. Charles East.

The North Stars drenched their surging crosstown rivals with a bucket of ice water.

East arrived at North on Monday one of the hottest teams in the state, winners of 18 straight games. But the North Stars let it be known that they're not about to relinquish St. Charles softball supremacy easily, shredding the Saints, 10-0, in five innings in the teams' first of two regular season meetings.

The victory gave North (14-4, 9-2 Upstate Eight Conference River) a narrow lead on East (21-4, 10-3 UEC River) atop the conference standings.

A North win over East was not entirely unexpected, but this?

"It's insane," North center fielder Andrea Beal said. "They're a very good team. I'm not surprised because I knew we had it in us but I knew that they had it in them, as well. … I'm happy it came out the way that it did."

On a day with numerous highlights for the North Stars, Beal supplied the ultimate exclamation point. The No. 9 hitter in North's lineup crushed her first career grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning to provide North a 9-0 lead.

"Oh my gosh, my adrenaline's still going from it," Beal said. "My teammate, Holly Hagemann, came up to me and she was just like 'You're due here, just calm down, just do what you know how to do.' And that's exactly what I did."

Two batters later, North second baseman Kaitlyn Waslawski tripled in Sabrina Rabin for the North Stars' 10th run, and a performance the North Stars would love to bottle for the postseason was in the books. 

"I told them after the game, that's the focus we need going forward," North coach Tom Poulin said. "That's like a tournament focus."

A North offense that was scuffling as recently as a week ago built on its recent momentum in a major way.

Waslawski went 2 for 3 with her first home run of the season – a two-run shot – in addition to her game-ending triple and a walk. First baseman Abby Howlett was 2 for 2 with a double, an RBI and a walk. And Rabin added three singles, a walk and stole four bases to bring her season total to 24.

Neither East starting pitcher Haley Beno (four innings, five earned runs) nor reliever Alex Latoria enjoyed anything resembling their customary success.

"We were definitely on today, as you can see," said Waslawski, who overcame a recent bout of strep throat. "They have very good pitching. We put in a lot of practice."

Meanwhile, Rabin (11-2) complemented her offensive splendor by stifling East's prolific offense. She scattered four singles while striking out six batters and walking none.

North squandered a second and third with nobody out scenario in the bottom of the first but soon started cashing in with regularity, beginning with a two-out, RBI single by third baseman Erin Nemitz in the second inning. North added two runs apiece in the third and fourth innings before doubling their output in the fifth to close the deal.

The Saints are enjoying a monster regular season but East coach Kelly Horan noted that it's North, not East, that owns a boatload of postseason hardware in recent seasons. She said "we haven't done anything" yet this season.

"Yeah, we got 20 wins before May, and that's great and that's wonderful, but I don't want that to be the headliner of my end-of-the-year speech," Horan said. "Having 20 wins before May, and that's it.

"[The North rivalry] is fun, it's competitive but like I said, today, they just took it to us. We're going to be mad about it for the next 10 minutes home and then we're going to be thinking about gearing up for Geneva tomorrow." 

About the only imperfect aspect of the game for the North Stars was the timing. Poulin wasn't sure if Monday's result came in time to affect postseason seeding, which is due to be released today.

The North Stars and Saints are slated to meet for the second time a week from today at East.

The Saints figure to be primed for that one.

"Probably," Waslawksi said with a laugh.

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