SOUTH ELGIN – St. Charles North softball coach Tom Poulin’s decision to pitch to South Elgin cleanup hitter Alyssa Buddle instead of walking her when she led off the bottom of the fourth inning ended up being a good strategy, but not for the reason the coach intended during Friday’s game.
Buddle lofted an 0-2 Sabrina Rabin pitch over the center field fence for a home run to break a scoreless tie.
The homer also seemed to wake up North’s offense, which responded with 11 runs during the North Stars’ next two at-bats as North trounced the Storm, 11-1, in six innings in an Upstate Eight Conference crossover game.
“I knew she was a good hitter so anything I gave her she would hit it but I think [the home run] definitely fueled us,” Rabin said.
“I didn’t want to walk the leadoff hitter,” Poulin said. “It’s a zero-zero game, and then they bunt her over and she’s a single away from scoring.”
North (5-2, 1-2 UEC River) immediately went to work to take the lead in the top of the fifth inning when leadoff batter Andrea Beal hit a triple that bounced on the right-field foul line for the team’s first extra base hit of the game.
“I actually didn’t see it,” Beal said. “When I came into the dugout and asked my teammates, they said that was directly on the line and bounced foul.”
Rabin, the next batter, hit the first pitch from South Elgin (4-3, 1-2 UEC Valley) starting pitcher Paige Allen over the infield, playing in for a bunt, into right-center for another triple, scoring Beal with North’s first run.
Second baseman Kaitlyn Waslawski followed with a double that scored Rabin. Waslawski crossed the plate three batters later on Alex Millett’s single.
The North Stars put the game away in the sixth inning when it sent 14 batters to the plate.
Facing three different pitchers, North scored eight runs on eight hits, a walk and two Storm errors.
South Elgin upset St. Charles North in an IHSA Class 4A regional final last year.
“I told the team we had to concentrate on getting a quality win against a quality team, and I was hoping that would be today,” said first-year South Elgin coach Stephanie Katzenberger. “The first four innings it looked like it would be a great game and then they started smacking the ball around.”
Rabin struck out six, walked one and allowed five hits to earn the win. The senior right-hander also was 3 for 4 at the plate, collecting two singles in the sixth to go along with her fifth-inning triple.
Allen, who pitched through the fifth inning, was pegged for the loss.
“Overall we did well in all three phases. We ran the bases well, we hit and we defended,” Poulin said. “I thought we played solid defense. We’ve been kicking it around a little bit lately which is uncharacteristic for us but today we made the plays we needed to make.”