BARTLETT – St. Charles East’s softball team is heading home.
And that’s a good thing.
The top-seeded Saints captured their sixth consecutive Class 4A regional championship with a 10-0, six-inning triumph over eighth-seeded Addison Trail on May 27 in Bartlett.
With the victory, St. Charles East (25-6) earned a spot in its own sectional and faced sixth-seeded Glenbard North on Tuesday.
“We get to go back home,” said Saints coach Jarod Gutesha, whose team earned a pair of narrow victories over Glenbard North (4-1 on April 21; 3-2 on May 4) during the regular season.
“The kids – they work hard for this. They put the time and energy into things. This is the first step in the postseason process.”
Saints senior pitcher Izzy Howe, who tossed a two-hit complete game with 12 strikeouts, didn’t allow a base hit until the sixth inning when Blazers junior Kylie Fiermuga led off with an opposite-field single through the left side of the infield.
“It was sneaky,” Gutesha said. “When the ball went through, I realized it was the first hit she gave up.
“She was great as usual. Her and [catcher] Sam [Gaca] have worked well together all year long. It was nice to see.”
Howe, who struck out the side in the top of the first, recorded 10 strikeouts through the first four innings.
“I just tried to focus on hitting my spots,” Howe said. “I tried to keep calm and throw to my awesome catcher.”
The Saints grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning without the benefit of a hit. Cici Wilson was hit by a pitch and eventually advanced to third before scoring when Katie Morgan walked off first and got caught in a rundown. Morgan returned safely back to first as Wilson scored on the play.
In the third, Nikki Johnston’s one-out triple – the game’s first hit – resulted in the Saints’ second run on Gaca’s sacrifice fly.
Addison Trail senior pitcher Madison Domek held the Saints scoreless in the fourth, thanks in part to freshman right fielder Erin Parker’s on-the-money throw to the plate that nailed Wilson at home for an inning-ending double play.
The Saints added some breathing room with a five-run fifth, benefiting from three Addison Trail fielding miscues and Wilson’s two-run single along with an RBI single from Chloe Hild (2-for-3).
“We had a little defensive breakdown that one inning,” Blazers coach Mark Olson said. “You can’t do that against good teams.
“They’ve got a solid pitcher there [Howe] and we didn’t put much bat on the ball. But I thought our girls battled and gave great effort all the way through.”
After Howe’s RBI single increased the Saints’ lead to 8-0 in the sixth, Wilson (2-for-2, 4 RBI) delivered a two-run single to end the game.
“I love supporting my team and helping them in any way I can,” said Wilson, who served as the designated hitter. “I wasn’t fielding today but I made up for it with my hitting.”
Domek and starting center fielder Gia Napoli finished their high school careers for the Blazers (21-8), who started six freshmen in the field.
“We’ve talked to them [seniors] about how each class leaves a legacy and I think they’ve left it better than when they started,” Olson said. “It’s a special group and I’m proud of them.”