Softball: Naperville Central’s DVC hopes dashed
Both Naperville Central and West Chicago had something big riding on Thursday’s DuPage Valley Conference ballgames.
For the Redhawks, the doubleheader represented an opportunity for either a share of the DVC title with Glenbard North, or the title outright, depending on whether they split or won both games against the Wildcats. For the Wildcats, the twin bill gave the true home team a chance to celebrate senior night by spoiling Naperville Central’s DVC title hopes.
The Wildcats won in West Chicago by scores of 10-7 in Game 1 and 6-5 in Game 2, thereby dashing the Redhawks’ try at winning their first conference title since 1989. That year, they shared the title with West Chicago.
Instead, Glenbard North wins the DVC outright with a 12-2 mark and Naperville Central finishes second with an 11-3 record. The Redhawks are 25-8 overall.
“‘Utterly disappointing’ are the two words I would use (to describe losing Game 2),” Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said. “(Ahead) 5-2 with nine outs to go, I thought we were golden.”
The first game was a continuation of a May 1 game that was suspended in the first inning with the “visiting” team, West Chicago, ahead 2-1. The second game featured the Wildcats as the home team.
Between games, West Chicago officially honored its six seniors but the truest farewell gift for them came in the form of the two victories.
Senior Katie Wiest (12-5) got the Game 1 win with a seven-inning, four-strikeout effort in which she scattered 14 hits. Redhawks starting pitcher Keegan Hayes (13-4) also went seven and struck out four but took the loss. Hayes surrendered 10 hits to a potent Wildcats offense.
After Naperville Central tied Game 1 2-2 after one inning, West Chicago scored three in the second, one in the third, one in the fifth and three in the sixth. The Redhawks responded with a two-run fifth and a three-run seventh, but it was too little, too late.
“We showed we never give up and even though we lost, we kept fighting throughout the game,” Redhawks junior right fielder Laura Dierking said. She went 4-for-4 with a home run and three RBI in Game 1.
Dierking added an RBI double in Game 2.
Eight errors in Game 1 haunted the Redhawks.
In Game 2, Naperville Central overcame a 2-0 Wildcats first-inning lead with one in the third and three in the fourth. Redhawks shortstop Kelsey Gonzalez had an RBI single in that rally in the fourth and the Wildcats’ outfield committed two errors in the frame. Naperville Central added one more run in the fifth.
West Chicago put up a four-spot in the fifth to take the lead for good. Wildcats senior Rachel Johnson highlighted the offensive heroics with a two-run single, and Morgan Dastych grounded out to drive in the go-ahead run. She had homered in the first game and had four RBI for the day.
West Chicago senior Tarah Rayos (10-5) picked up the Game 2 win and Naperville Central’s Kristina Vizza (12-3), a senior southpaw, took the loss.
“I think the kids came out a little more ready to play because it was senior night,” West Chicago coach Kim Wallner said. “That, and the fact that they had a chance to play the spoiler role, factored into the games.”