To get motivated for the start of postseason play, the Warren players painted designs on their faces with eye black, giving them an unusual look for their regional semifinal game at home.
As things turned out, it was a winning look.
With Selaina Coronado leading the way by belting a three-run homer in the fifth and a game-ending grand slam in the sixth, Warren wiped out Grayslake North15-2 to advance to Saturday’s 3 p.m. regional final against rival Zion-Benton.
Coronado, a junior second baseman, painted her face to make it look like a giant smile, and she was grinning ear to ear after her grand slam, which came a day after she injured a finger in practice.
“I was taking a throw at second yesterday in practice and played it wrong, and ended up jamming a finger (index finger on her right hand),” she said. “I felt like it (the tape job) helped me push with my back hand today instead of over-swinging.“I also think it helped me stay more relaxed.
“Today, we came out pumped and ready. Now, we need to carry that over to Saturday.”
Warren’s first-year coach, Tina Meyer, was glad to see her team pumped up as it tries to defend the regional title it won last year.
“The girls came out with a lot of energy today,” she said. “This was probably the most energy they’ve had all season. I don’t know if it was the eye black on their face or what.”
Coronado said the face paint was a way of getting the team ready to play. “It was just another thing to get us pumped up,” Coronado said. “Everybody had something different drawn on their face.”
Jana Wagner pitched five no-hit innings for the Blue Devils (23-6) but was touched for two runs and three hits in the sixth by Grayslake North (19-9).
That thought process will be tested Saturday, as Saturday morning is graduation for Warren at Northwestern University. Five of the Devils who started Thursday will be receiving their diplomas 4-5 hours before game time.
Which should afford them just enough time to don their game faces once again.
Grayslake North won regional and sectional titles last year playing in Class 3A, but was bumped up to 4A this year, which led to the one-and-done.
“It’s unfortunate that it (the season) had to end this way, but we’re still happy about the season,” Knights coach Molly Tomlinson said.
“We went 11-1 in conference and won it (the Fox Valley Fox title) for the second year in a row. I think moving up to 4A was a bit of an eye opener for us. The girls were confident, but Warren hit the ball and we didn’t.”