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St. Charles East shrugs off slow start, wins 12-4

ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles East softball team had many reasons to overlook South Elgin.

The Saints beat the Storm, 8-2, when the teams last met April 9. East was the runner-up in state a year ago and earned the Upstate Eight River championship this season, dethroning crosstown rival St. Charles North’s five-year run at the top. 

It looked as though East might fall into the trap of looking ahead after South Elgin went up 3-0 in the top half of the first, roughing up Saints ace Haley Beno for a three-run home run. 

However, East came back swinging, putting up six runs in the bottom of the first and cruised to a 12-4 victory in the 4A Regional Semifinal. The game finished in the top of the sixth inning after lightning was seen in the area, followed by around an hour of rain before the umpires called the game. 

After surrendering the opening blast, Beno settled in and went the distance – striking out four of the next five hitters she faced. The senior finished with nine strikeouts on the day.

“We were trying to get one back in the bottom of the first,” East head coach Kelly Horan said. “There’s going to be ups and downs, but as long as you stay through it, good things are going to happen. We stayed positive, and gosh, it came out okay for us today.” 

Fellow senior Tess Hupe led East at the plate, going 4 for 4 with two runs batted in and a stolen base. She had two singles in East’s six-run first inning. 

Third baseman Alex Latoria crushed the ball all afternoon, reaching base in all four of her plate appearances. She hit a three-run home run to right center field in the first inning, then reached on an error on a deep fly to left and doubled off the wall in right-center in the fourth. 

“We have good balance,” Horan said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate throughout the year to have somebody different contribute, so it was a pretty consistent effort today. A total team win.”

Every member of East’s starting lineup reached base at least once and eight of the nine recorded a hit.

Next up for the Saints will be the winner of Elk Grove and Elgin, who play in St. Charles on Wednesday. Horan said she was “confident” the field will be playable for tomorrow’s game.

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