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Naperville North routs rival for 1st regional title in 10 years

The Naperville North softball team is a team of checklists.

Excellent pitching. Check. Strong hitting. Check. tough defence. Check. Achieving the team’s best season in years. Check.

The Huskies also have a checklist of goals. The DuPage Valley Conference championship is accomplished and the latest goal was achieved Saturday as North beat Naperville Central 10-0 in six innings to win its own regional. It’s the team’s first regional title in 10 years.

“We want to keep on going,” said third baseman Rhyan Hampton. “We’re a family and playing together is amazing.”

Next for the Huskies is a Class 4A Yorkville sectional semifinal against fellow DuPage Valley Conference member Neuqua Valley. Game time is Wednesday at 4:30 pm

The Wildcats won their own regional, so on Saturday, beating Wheaton Warrenville South 3-1 to advance.

North (26-3) won two of three against Neuqua during the regular season.

The Huskies jumped ahead quickly scoring four runs on two hits in their top half of the first. Hampton connected on a two-run single to right and catcher Laurel Anstine made good on an RBI single to center. Anstine finished with four hits on the day.

“I was just trying to hit through the infield. I wasn’t hoping for anything big,” Anstine said.

North methodically built on its lead throughout the game. Starting pitcher Charlotte Chelich earned the victory, throwing a one-hitter and striking out 13.

She said that facing the Redhawks a fourth time is helpful as far as knowing the opposition’s capabilities.

“I was more nervous seeing Batavia (regional semifinal victory) because we didn’t know anything about them,” Chelich said.

North coach Jerry Kedziora said a pitching performance like Chelich’s is a boost to the team’s game overall.

“If you play defense behind our pitching and she gets 13 strikeouts, the defense is not going to feel the pressure of having to stop everything. And we got a lot of timely hitting today with two outs,” he said.

The Huskies added a run in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, the score came thanks to Maddi Larsen’s double to left. The next frame saw Shayna Woolwine’s base hit make it 6-0.

North broke the game completely open in the sixth with Kristina Donaldson’s two-run homer and Anstine’s infield hit which scored Kendall Kedziora, who had doubled, and finished the game tops on the team in runs scored with three.

Anstine said this season is exceptionally satisfying because of the strides the team has made in one year.

“Last year we didn’t do that well and there weren’t that many changes this season,” she said.

Central finishes the season at 14-18. The Redhawks’ lone hit came from Julia Nicholus who belted a single to right in the fourth.

“We needed to be the defensive team that we were on Thursday (6-0 regional semifinal victory against Plainfield East) especially when we had trouble scoring against North,” said Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum. “North is a very good team. There’s no shame. We put forth the effort. We just didn’t make the plays.”

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