Softball: St. Charles East falls 3-0 to South Elgin in regional title game

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SOUTH ELGIN – There’s no place like home for South Elgin.

CeCe Bell allowed just three hits, Anna Kiel provided the offense with a double and a two-run home run, Joslyn McDaniel contributed some sparkling defense, and the Storm downed St. Charles East 3-0 to win their own Class 4A regional.

The Storm will face Lake Park in the St. Charles North Sectional at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Bell struck out just four, but walked only two and kept the Saints hitters off-balance all day. Kiel gave her all the support she needed in the first inning. After Hannah Harms walked leading off and stole second, Kiel ripped a double to the left-field gap.

She provided some insurance in the fifth with a booming home run to right field, scoring Mia Speidel, who had walked ahead of her.

“I was imagining it in my head before I went up there,” Kiel said. “I knew if I got a pitch that I would ... do that.”

Bell then retired St. Charles East in order in the sixth and seventh. She got some help from McDaniel, who leapt to stab Ciena Wilson’s line drive leading off the seventh.

Earlier, Joslyn Miranda, McDaniel and Kiel turned a double play to snuff out a Saints threat in the first inning.

“It’s been a long time coming for us,” said Storm coach Brad Reynard. “Since I’ve been here, we haven’t won a regional. It’s my eighth year, so maybe it has been a decade. I’d have to look that up for you. We’ve been close, been in a few regional finals, and it’s nice to see them take that next step.”

The Storm’s last regional crown came in 2013.

Bell and Kiel continued to provide the senior leadership, as they’ve done all season.

“CeCe’s been a rock for us all year. She’s kept us in every game — senior leader — she just knows how to win. Anna’s been our leading hitter all year.”

It was a tough end to the season for St. Charles East.

“What I’ll remember about this team is how they came together, how they played together,” said Saints coach Jarod Gutesha. “This was a great team to work with.”

The Saints’ afternoon started well enough, with leadoff hitter Nicole Johnston lining a single to center field. She was erased when Miranda fielded a sharp grounder and started a double play. Samantha Gaca drew a walk, but Bell got a strikeout to get out of the inning.

Bell retired eight more hitters in a row before walking Wilson with two outs in the fourth. Katelyn Morgan followed with a single, but the Saints couldn’t score.