Big first inning leads Naperville Central softball past Naperville North in the Regional Semis

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It’s time for an IHSA Softball Regional Semifinal between crosstown rivals Naperville North and Naperville Central. The fifth-seeded Redhawks won both regular season matchups against the 12-seeded Huskies, but anything can happen in the playoffs. The winner advances to the Regional final against 14-seed Plainfield East, who upset hosts West Chicago. This highlight is sponsored by BMO.

Naperville Central softball scores six runs in the first inning

After allowing the first two batters on base, Redhawk Freshman pitcher Avery Miller stays composed in her first career postseason start. She strikes out three Huskies to get out of the inning. Miller would strike out the first two batters in the second, to begin the day with five K’s in five outs.

On her birthday, Riley Silvers leads off for the Redhawks. She connects for a nuke, that’s sent over the centerfielders head and the camera. What a way to start the game, and to celebrate her birthday!

Bases loaded now for the Redhawks in the bottom of the first. Meredith Cann slashes one into center, which scores Jamie Saran, and Miller. Central still has two runners on with one out.

Once again the bases are juiced, and the Redhawks pull off some trickery on the basepath. Sydney Hurst starts it with a big lead at first, which allows Cann to slide into home. Avery Hayward moves to third, where the ball is overthrown and the Redhawk runs in to score, while Hurst gets to third base. Central leads 6-0 after Natalie Lau reached on an error where Hurst scored.

Naperville North connects for some hits and Sara Rossi scores

In the top of the second, Huskie Ava Weishaar hits a rocket into center field where the ball lands just short of a home run. North can’t get her home.

Now in the third, North’s Sara Rossi lines one over the right fielder’s head and off the wall. She hustles to third for the triple, and the blue and orange are looking to strike.

Eliza Patterson steps up to the plate, and connects for an RBI single out to center. Rossi scores and the Huskies are on the board, trailing 6-1.

Silvers and Saran hit RBIs for the Redhawks

In the bottom of the third, Lau hit a bunt which put Hurst at second with Riley Silvers back up to the plate. The birthday girl lines one to the outfield, allowing Hurst to score and the Redhawks extend its lead to 7-1.

The next at-bat, Saran lines one out to Huskie shortstop Maddi Larsen who throws to third for the double play! The catch keeps the deficit at six.

The Huskies have runners on first and second with two outs, and Gabi Chimel dribbles one to Cann at second, who can’t corral it. Larsen tries to advance to third on the error, but the Redhawks won’t allow it. Lau tags out the Huskie to close out the top of the fourth. 

Shea Meech homers and Naperville Central softball goes on to beat Naperville North

Shea Meech leads off the bottom half of the inning with this missile over the fence in left-center field. Central’s bats continue to stay hot and now lead 8-1.

In the bottom of the fifth, Saran is up and she’s able to connect bat on ball for the RBI double. Rossi falls into the netted fence but slingshots back up for a great throw to second. 

After a scoreless sixth, the Redhawks look to close out the game. A grounder is sent to Saran at first where she steps on the bag and throws to second for the double play. Miller records eight strikeouts, as Naperville Central defeats Naperville North 9-1. They will take on Plainfield East in the Regional final on Saturday afternoon.

For more prep sports highlights, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!