Softball: Naperville Central edges rival Naperville NorthKelsey Gonzalez (5) of Naperville Central rounds second base after delivering the big blow of the game, a bases loaded three-run double giving the Redhawks a 4-3 lead. The Huskies second baseman is Hannah Robert. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 14, 2012 11:18PM
Monday’s DuPage Valley Conference showdown between Naperville North and No. 20 Naperville Central came down to a battle of two seniors, and Redhawks shortstop Kelsey Gonzalez won the matchup with Huskies pitcher Kathleen Hahne.
Gonzalez’s heroics were enough to help her team down Naperville North 6-3 on the campus of North Central College in Naperville.
Gonzalez drilled a bases-loaded double in Naperville Central’s three-run fifth inning as the Redhawks (25-6, 11-1) erased a 3-1 Huskies lead. The extra-base hit by Gonzalez came on an inside pitch and followed a stretch in which three Redhawks reached on infield hits in a span of four at-bats, prior to Gonzalez’s plate appearance.
“She pitched me inside the whole game so I was definitely looking for an inside pitch, so that first one that I saw, I just jumped on it, because I knew she was gonna throw it there because she’s been throwing it all game,” Gonzalez said.
Added Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum: “What a great money hit for her. For us to have her up in that situation, that’s who we want up and she came through.”
Naperville Central added two insurance runs in the sixth on a two-run single by Maddi Doane, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBI.
It was a good thing the Redhawks tacked on the extra runs, because Naperville North (19-9, 9-4) loaded the bases with two out in the seventh on singles by Caitlyn Warren and Steph Tobin and a walk to Tara Degl’Innocenti. Kailee Budicin flied out deep to center near the 220-foot sign as Doane squeezed the fly for the final out.
“If we’re playing at our place, that ball’s probably out of the park,” Naperville North coach Jerry Kedziora said. “It just seems to happen sometimes when we play (at) different fields, to us. … If maybe we were playing at home or at their place, that ball would be out of here.”
Naperville Central scored an unearned run in the second and Naperville North countered by scoring three unearned runs in the third on two Redhawks errors.
Winning pitcher Keegan Hayes improved to 13-3, going seven innings and allowing just three unearned runs while striking out four. She also walked four and surrendered six hits.
Hayes has not lost a start since April 5 against Benet.
“I thought Keegan pitched very well,” Nussbaum said.
Hahne (15-7) went six innings, permitting six runs—five earned—on 10 hits. She fanned one and walked one but held in check the potent Naperville Central offense until the fifth.
The Redhawks held a one-game lead over 10-2 Glenbard North in the DVC standings through the weekend. They hope to win their first conference title since they shared the top honors with West Chicago in 1989. This year’s players weren’t even born then but they understand the significance of winning conference.
“It’s in our hands right now for DVC so winning a game, especially against a rival like (Naperville) North, is a huge win for us,” Gonzalez said. “So now, we’ve just got to get it done ourselves and if we can do it, that’s a championship.”