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St. Charles North rides 5-run first in 8-2 win over Wheaton Warrenville-South – Shaw Local

ST. CHARLES – Five runs to start a game is always great.

And with a pitcher like Paige Murray in the circle, five runs were more than enough for St. Charles North.

“I always joke with her that my magic number for her is three (runs),” assistant coach Thijs Dennison said. “Our record has been pretty incredible in recent years when we hit that threshold.”

The North Stars used a five-run first inning, along with three insurance runs in the sixth, to secure an 8-2 DuKane Conference victory over Wheaton Warrenville-South on Monday.

The win moves the North Stars into first place in the conference with four games remaining. Wheaton North and Lake Park are currently a half game behind with 7-2 conference records, while Glenbard North is one game behind at 7-3.

North (16-3, 8-2 DuKane) came out of the gate swinging against Maddie Pool, who threw a no-hitter in her previous outing against Plainfield South. Mack Patterson scored the first run after beating home a throw on a ground ball from Abby Zawadzki.

Three batters later, with the bases loaded and two outs, Skyla Ritter connected the first pitch she saw for a two-run single that gave the North Stars an early 3-0 lead.

“I knew the pitcher was giving us one hard pitch to hit in every at-bat, and I knew it would be the first,” Ritter said. “It’s always nice to give Paige a few runs under her belt and take the weight off her shoulders.”

St. Charles North's Ivy Gleeson slides safely to home base during a home game against Wheaton Warrenville South on Monday, May 6, 2024.

The North Stars were especially aggressive on the basepaths in the first inning. They managed to get three bases in the inning and scored twice on wild pitches.

Dennison, who acted as head coach for the game while Tom Poulin attended a life celebration for his uncle, said that since the team had not practiced in two weeks, the first inning was a huge confidence booster for the team.

“They came out and got us started from the beginning,” Dennison said. “It definitely came out and set the tone for the rest of the game.”

St. Charles North pitcher Paige Murray throws to first base for an out during a home game against Wheaton Warrenville South on Monday, May 6, 2024.

North managed to score three more runs across the board in the sixth, with Maddie Hernandez ending the inning with a two-out, two-run single to make it 8-2. It was more than enough influence for Murray to work with in the circle. The junior allowed just two runs while striking out four in the win.

Murray, who claimed she didn’t have her best assets, said getting that early lead helped her confidence.

“It wasn’t my best day, that will happen sometimes. You’re not going to have your best things every day,” Murray said. “But I just had to trust that my defense had my back. They made some incredible plays behind me, and I knew if I went straight at the hitters and trusted my spin, I could get it done.

Wheaton Warrenville South's Maddie Pool hits a double during a game at St. Charles North on Monday, May 6, 2024.

Despite the early deficit, WWS (16-8, 4-6) did not waver in its approach at the plate. Pool put the first run on the board for the Tigers with an RBI double to left field in the third inning, and Abby Mease singled over third base in the fifth to cut the deficit to 5-2.

Tigers coach Jeff Pawlak said after the ugliness of the first inning, he told his girls the game was far from over.

“I told them we had six innings left, and we knew we could hang with them after only losing 1-0 last time,” Pawlak said. “And overall I thought so. We had some solid at bats and I thought we saw what was coming. We hit the ball really well through the middle and into the opposite field.

“The result is not what we wanted, but we had some positives in the match.”

Pawlak said the fight showed what the team can do when the postseason arrives, but for now they need to focus on making sure they play a full game.

“We can’t have the misfortune in the first or sixth and then start chasing runs,” Pawlak said. “And when that happens, we have to be able to stop it and limit the damage. We can’t just let it be built. But overall I like the group we have, and we will do well in the playoffs.”