GLEN ELLYN – This wasn’t exactly the homecoming St. Charles East softball coach Kelly Horan was expecting, but nevertheless, she’ll take it.
Horan, a graduate of Glenbard West, helped lead her top-seeded Saints to a 9-2, comeback victory against a game Hoffman Estates team in a 4A Glenbard West Regional semifinal Tuesday.
East (28-5) will play the winner of the today’s semifinal between Conant and Glenbard West contest for the regional title at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“It wasn’t the greatest homecoming, but it carries a lot of good memories, especially the memory that my kids did what they needed to do to win today,” Horan said. “We’re a good ball team, and the only mistake we made is that [we] came out a little tight in the first inning. But we kept having good at-bats and that was the momentum-builder.”
After a sluggish first inning in which she found her team down, 2-0, East pitcher Haley Beno regrouped and was nearly lights out in the circle as she struck out five batters and retired seven in a row at one point.
“I was just a little tight in the first,” Beno said. “I was anxious to get the game started and that’s why I struggled. But once I settled in, we did a great job. The defense was amazing behind me.”
Hoffman Estates (4-23) took advantage of Beno’s struggles in the first as it plated a pair of runs on an RBI single and a bases-loaded walk. Things stayed that way until the third inning, when East tallied its first run on a run-scoring double from Olivia Lorenzini.
“Our kids did a nice of job of staying calm and staying in the moment,” Horan said. “The defense also did a superb job in staying focused and getting it done.”
To the Saints’ surprise, Hoffman Estates changed its pitcher in the fifth and the Saints took advantage.
After Lexi Perez reached on a two-base throwing error to lead off the frame, the offense became conatgious. Perez scored on Tess Hupe’s fielder’s choice. Hupe then scored on Alex Latoria’s fielder’s choice and Lorenzini came across on Katie Kolb’s fielder’s choice. Back-to-back RBI singles from Kate Peterburs and Sarah Collalti gave the Saints a 6-2 lead before East tallied its seventh and eighth runs on an error and an RBI groundout from Shelby Holtz.
“Softball’s like going to a barbecue,” Horan said. “You need to be nice and relaxed in order to enjoy it, so that’s what we did. We started talking about food from the second inning on and we were good from there on out.”
The Saints added their final run in the sixth when Hupe scored on Kolb’s fielder’s choice. In all, the Saints drilled out eight hits.
“It was awesome,” Beno said. “We did a great job and the offense battled back to get this win.”