West Aurora is waiting for the proverbial worm to turn.
Losers of four straight games going into Monday’s matchup at DuPage Valley Conference co-leader Naperville Central, the Blackhawks will need to wait another day.
Lightning delayed the game for 55 minutes at 0-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Play resumed, but a batter in, the weather siren went off again, and the game was postponed until Tuesday.
The Blackhawks (13-10, 3-6) had ample opportunity to break ahead beforehand. They loaded the bases in both the first and second innings, but both times Redhawks ace Keegan Hayes wiggled out of trouble.
Jessica Wayzer singled to lead off the fourth, and was sacrificed to second.
With two out Gianna Drager singled, but Naperville Central center fielder Maddi Doane threw the runner out at the plate.
“Unfortunately it’s kind of the same thing that’s been happening lately. We can get runners on, but we can’t get the clutch hit,” West Aurora coach Randy Hayslett said. “Against good teams you got to take advantage of opportunities because you’re only going to get so many.”
Naperville Central won the teams’ first matchup 10-0, but Blackhawks freshman Hannah Beatus kept the Redhawks at bay Monday. Beatus struck out four in three-plus innings, allowing two hits and a walk. The Redhawks had a runner on second with one out when play was called.
“We’ve had a good one-two presence on the mound all year,” Hayslett said. “Hannah hits her spots; she has great poise for a freshman and a changeup that’s almost undetectable.”
West Aurora suffered a devastating blow four games ago. Junior shortstop Taylor Podschweit, hitting .450, went down going back for a pop up against Glenbard East and hurt her knee. The diagnosis is two fractures and possible ligament damage.
“That’s a tough blow for us,” Hayslett said. “It was just a collision with the left fielder. Both parties could have caught it.”
In a sense, Naperville Central is playing a waiting game of its own these days.
The Redhawks last year won their first DVC title since 1989, only to be upset in regionals for the second straight year.
Even tied for the DVC lead, Naperville Central (20-5, 8-1) is a team working its way through the dog days of May, awaiting regional redemption. Playoff seeding is this week, with regionals starting in two weeks. Naperville Central plays DVC co-leader Glenbard North on Thursday.
“This time of year, it just seems to be a little more of a grind,” Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum said. “I do have the feeling that we are kind of waiting for the tournament.”
The Redhawks’ pitching, per usual in the last number of years, has been stellar with the tandem of Northern Illinois recruit Hayes and Bradley-bound Julie Kestas.
And the Redhawks have clubbed 20 homers, led by sevenfrom Syracuse commit Doane. The Redhawks could probably go for more “little ball,” though.
Only one player has successfully bunted all spring.
“Our three toughest losses — Benet, Downers South, Wheaton Warrenville South — we all lost in our opponents’ last at bat, all three of those games we led 2-0,” Nussbaum said, “and had opportunities for insurance we let slide by the board. You can’t always leave it to your pitcher. I’d like to score more runs, but at the same time we’re still 8-1 in the league.”