Norridge-Harwood Heights’ 16U softball team wins state title

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HARWOOD HEIGHTS — The core members of the Norridge-Harwood Heights 16U softball team have been together since they were 10. During that time, they had become the perpetual runners-up in the state, finishing second three times.

That changed this year, however. Norridge-Harwood Heights won all three of its tournament games by the 10-run rule — including a 10-0 victory over Pike County that took five innings at Norridge Park on Tuesday night — to secure the team’s first state championship.

By winning the Illinois 16U Senior League title, Norridge-Harwood Heights advances to the Central Regional, which is scheduled to take place in South Bend, Indiana, and begin on Friday.

Winning state “feels really good because we’ve been here for so many years, and it’s just great to finally accomplish something that we’ve always worked for,” said shortstop Sabrina Krasinski, who’s a junior-to-be at Ridgewood.

Norridge-Harwood Heights took control of the game in the top of the first inning. Starting pitcher Sarah Straughn (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K) led off with a walk and Krasinski, the No. 2 hitter, advanced her to third with a single. Claudia Maloberti followed by pounding a home run to left field to give Norridge-Harwood Heights a 3-0 lead before an out was even recorded.

“It gave [us] motivation to keep going throughout the game and just stay strong and finish strong,” Maloberti said of her home run.

Straughn added: “That was really what started everything. It got us pumped up.”

Norridge-Harwood Heights (15-2) scored four times in the third and three times in the fifth to reach the 10-run rule. Third baseman Brittany Smith had two RBI in the fifth inning.

Norridge-Harwood Heights’ fast start was a perfect scenario for manager Mike Straughn. Norridge-Harwood Heights won the coin toss before the game and Mike Straughn elected for his squad to be the away team even though Pike County is about 275 miles away from Harwood Heights.

The goal was to build an early lead against a Pike County team Norridge-Harwood Heights beat 13-1 on Sunday.

“We think we’re a good offensive team,” said Mike Straughn, Sarah Straughn’s dad. “If we could go out and score three runs and set the tone that way, that sends a message.”

Although losing by the 10-run rule was disappointing for Pike County, it was able to take positives from the game. For one, it played better than it did on Sunday. It also had a better approach on Tuesday night.

“Our team really struggled on Sunday. We had some attitudes and we were struggling with our bats,” said Carlee Joe Hively, Pike County’s starting pitcher who went 1-for-2 at the plate. “Knowing yesterday we had a really good game and we won, our attitude coming in was to have fun no matter what. We’re getting second in state, which is a good accomplishment.”

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