ST. CHARLES – Solid pitching, nearly flawless defense and timely hitting.
Those ingredients added up to a 4-0 victory for St. Charles East over rival St. Charles North in DuKane Conference action at St. Charles North Thursday afternoon in hot and humid conditions.
East swept the season series against the North Stars and tied St. Charles North for the conference lead. Lake Park is a game behind at 9-3.
Sophomore Grace Hautzinger spun a gem for the Saints (21-3, 10-2).
Hautzinger, St. Charles East’s No. 2 starter, blanked the North Stars (16-3, 10-2) on three singles. The sophomore struck out seven without allowing a walk in seven innings of work.
She induced six pop-ups and a double play from the North Stars.
“It was hot but I just had to get over that,” Hautzinger said. “My rise ball was really working. I was mixing up my pitches and my defense made the plays behind me. They are our rivals. It is always nice to beat them.”
St. Charles East coach Jarod Gutesha was pleased with Hautzinger’s effort.
“She is a solid No. 2 pitcher,” Gutesha said. “She threw strikes and she threw strike one. She hits her spots and she had good movement on her pitches.”
The Saints benefitted from two North Star errors to score two runs in the third inning.
St. Charles East, which committed one error, scored a pair of insurance runs in the sixth on an RBI double by Cici Wilson and a run-scoring single by Chloe Hild.
“It is always good to beat North,” Gutesha said. “They are our rivals. We swung the bats well and are playing well with the regionals coming up.”
North got solid pitching from freshman Paige Murray. Murray allowed four runs, two of them unearned, on five hits. She struck out six without allowing a walk in seven innings of work.
The North Stars committed three errors behind Murray.
“We wasted a great pitching effort from Paige,” North Stars coach Tom Poulin said.
“She was outstanding. It was a disappointing effort. We played bad softball today and it was a shame. We played uncharacteristically today. We took a lot of third strikes, dropped two fly balls and didn’t run the bases well. The good thing is we are gaining experience. You have to give (St. Charles) East credit.”