ST. CHARLES – Although softball games typically call for seven innings, the St. Charles North softball team is making a habit of playing only five.
The North Stars handed Batavia a 13-1 defeat in five innings on Wednesday, two days after dispatching St. Charles East, 10-0, in five.
North did plenty of damage against Batavia starting pitcher Alicia Mueller, hammering the sophomore hurler for eight runs in the first inning and another four in the second. The North Stars sent a total of 21 batters to the plate in the game’s first two frames, with Mueller exiting after facing 17 of them.
“It feels really good. I think our bats are finally coming alive,” said North junior left fielder Delaney Olinger. “We were struggling a little at the beginning of the season just flowing as a team, jelling and getting it all together. But ever since the East game, I think we’ve been hitting really good.”
Seven of the game’s first eight batters reached in the first inning, and they all ended up scoring. North’s leadoff hitter, junior pitcher Sabrina Rabin, walked to start the game, and promptly stole second. She then tried to make it to third before Batavia catcher Brieann Cruz threw the ball into left field, allowing the first run to score, and the floodgates opened from there. The first inning featured a total of eight runs on five hits, three walks, two errors and a sacrifice fly.
An inning later, it was a leadoff double off the bat of junior shortstop Mickey Goetz before four straight one-out singles, two of which plated runs, the last chasing Mueller from the game. Batavia’s junior reliever pitcher, Nicole Peercy, walked two runs in with the bases loaded before getting out of the inning with the scoreboard reading 12-0 in favor of the home team.
The North Stars got one more in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from sophomore first baseman Abby Howlett, her third RBI in as many plate appearances. The Bulldogs broke up the shutout when senior center fielder Katie Ryan singled in a run in the top of the fifth, making it 13-1 shortly before the game was stopped.
“It definitely helps when we all hit collectively,” Rabin said. “It’s a lot more relaxing [as a pitcher]. You can ask [junior relief pitcher] Katie [Roggemann], too, how she pitched. I’m sure she was relaxed, too, by the way we hit. Everybody was just pumped and ready to go.”
The win pushes St. Charles North to 16-4, with an 11-2 record in Upstate Eight Conference River play.
“We’re clicking at the right time,” North coach Tom Poulin said. “We just need to continue to stay hot, stay the course. Our goal was to play our best softball going into the tournament, and we’re on that path but we’ve still got work to do.”
For Batavia, another rough day sent its record to 5-16 overall and 2-11 in conference play. Perhaps the Bulldogs were happy Wednesday’s contest lasted just five innings, making it easier to put the loss behind them.
“That’s what I told the girls after our meeting,” Batavia coach Lupe Castellanos said. “I’m like, ‘You know what? Today wasn’t our day. North had a pretty good day out there. They’ve been hot. And it wasn’t our day.’ ”