Softball: Wheaton North brings more thunder in 5-2 victory over Glenbard North

Sixth-inning home runs decide DeKane Conference showdown

Wheaton North's Reagan Crosthwaite (21) gets congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run during the game on Monday, May 13, 2024, while taking Glenbard North.

WHEATON – As a steady rain started to fall in the sixth inning Monday afternoon, Glenbard North and host Wheaton North were locked in a defensive battle.

Earlier in the day, the DuKane Conference game was in jeopardy because of a forecast that called for heavy rain and potential lightning.

The lightning did arrive in the sixth inning in the form of a combined three long home runs.

Wheaton North had a bit more thunder, riding a solo shot by Monica Kading and a two-run blast by Reagan Crosthwaite in a four-run bottom of the sixth for a 5-2 comeback victory over Glenbard North.

Evening the season series with Glenbard North (16-8, 9-4), Wheaton North (22-5, 10-2) moved one win away from clinching its first conference title since 1986.

Wheaton North senior pitcher Erin Metz struck out the final batter in the seventh to kick-start a big celebration on the field. Metz was a warrior on the mound, handling the wet and cold conditions and overcoming a rough effort to earn the win.

Kading, who had one hit and walked once, raised her season total to six home runs. Her blast evened the score at 2-2 and opened the door for a big inning.

“I was just thinking to just stick to what I know I can do because I’ve put in the work,” Kading said. “I was just trying to hit the ball. She was throwing a lot of changeups and offspeed. I was happy I was giving my team a shot to continue playing. It felt really good.”

Two batters later, Crosthwaite smacked a two-run missile over the left-center field scoreboard off Glenbard North starter Avery Miller to put the Falcons ahead 4-2. Crosthwaite finished with two hits.

“My first at-bat they got me on a changeup,” Crosthwaite said. “I was way out on my front foot. It was a good pitch. My second at-bat I was more aggressive, so on my third at-bat they got me again on a changeup for the first strike. I was anticipating another changeup and was going to sit back and hit it.”

Crosthwaite, who raised her total to a team-best 16 home runs, muscled out the two-run homer, relying on her training to not get fooled on the changeup.

“I made sure to keep all my weight back and stay on my back leg because timing has been a big focus for me this year. It’s crazy that we’re making history right now. We all knew as a team that this was the game we had to win.”

Glenbard North's Tru Medina (34) makes contact with the ball during the game on Monday May 13, 2024, while traveling to take on Wheaton North.

The Falcons added another run when Makayla Grantz just missed belting the fourth home run of the inning. She powered a shot to left-center that hit the bottom of the fence for an RBI to raise the lead to 5-2.

Metz came out strong, not allowing a hit until Glenbard North sophomore power hitter Tru Medina launched a mammoth two-run shot in the top of the sixth to give her team a 2-1 lead. Medina’s home run landed deep into a field, causing a spectator to take off her shoes and walk through the wet field to retrieve the ball.

Medina leads the Panthers with 12 home runs and is batting .539.

Metz (14-5) labored through the final two innings, showing her toughness by allowing just one hit, striking out 10 and walking four.

“I didn’t have it as much as I usually do today, but this team is really good and I can rely on my teammates to come through,” Metz said. “[Tru] is an amazing hitter. I knew we were down, but still had two chances left.

“My teammates really came through to get the win. We’re now one step closer to winning conference. It’s a nice feeling to be this close to winning it.”

The Falcons have won six games in a row.

Wheaton North coach Allie Ravanesi said her players showed a lot of resolve not wilting after Medina’s home run.

“I think we’re two games ahead of Glenbard North,” Ravanesi said. “We’re really trying to build this program and not give up. They have the talent and we have the skills, the hitters and pitchers to come back. We’ve been trying to get into their heads about playing consistently fundamental softball and not to give up. I’m so happy for them.”

Bob Narang

Bob Narang is a contributing sports reporter to Shaw Local News Network