ST. CHARLES – Izzy Howe battled bubbling nerves ahead of her first varsity start, but her strikeout-filled performance suggested otherwise.
Howe, a St. Charles East freshman, kept it simple.
Strike after strike.
"I had to go strong," Howe said following the Saints' 12-2, five-inning victory over Burlington Central on Monday. "Just wanted to throw strikes."
The adjustment to varsity softball has been a small challenge, but one Howe is weathering successfully in the early portion of the season.
Howe, in her second varsity appearance as a pitcher Monday, struck out nine batters in an efficient showing, scattering just three hits and four walks. The Rockets' only two runs came with two outs in the fifth on Alisyn Catenacci's double.
"I don't think she lets too many things get between the ears," Saints coach Jarod Gutesha said of Howe. "She just goes out there and puts her skills on display...happy with what I saw today."
The Saints, meanwhile, peppered Catenacci for 10 hits and 10 runs over 4.1 innings. It was a tough follow-up outing for Catenaccia, who threw a perfect game against Elgin her last time out.
Alex Wooten pounded four runs batted in, Lauren Luna added three and Howe had two to help pace the Saints to a nice bounce-back win following a loss to Oak Park on Saturday. St. Charles East batted around in a nine-run fifth inning.
St. Charles East (3-1) outhit Burlington Central 14-3. Kate Snow had a bunt single, Catenacci's double and Lauren Knief had one hit, a single in the fourth inning.
Offense, however, seems to be of little issue for the team as a whole four games in. Besides the hiccup over the weekend, the Saints have pushed across 38 runs.
"[Wooten] has a swing that not too many pitchers can beat," Gutesha said. "She's smooth. Whatever she does, whether it's in the field or at the plate."
Wooten, a Wisconsin-Parkside commit, is helping stabilize a group that graduated four seniors from last season's squad that made a sectionals semifinals appearance.
"My goal this year was to build that same team up again with the seniors that we have," Wooten said. "I feel like, just with the couple games we've had, we've bonded so well on the field and we're ready for the season."
Burlington Central (1-1) will be looking for a quick rebound.
"[Catenacci] is an incredible competitor," Central coach Scott Richman said. "We knew that this was the game we wanted...this is a good, good opportunity for her and she pitched well. She needed a little more defense behind her."