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Naperville Central's Lisa Tassi (right) slides into second with a double as Glenbard North's Alex Caliva turns to make the tag. | Gary Larsen/For Sun-Times Media
DuPage Valley Conference teams will play a total of 56 games this season and, ultimately, Naperville Central’s Lisa Tassi might lay claim to the biggest hit in any of those games.
With the Redhawks and host Glenbard North in a dogfight for the DVC lead, Tassi belted a three-run homer that stood as the winning hit of a 5-2 decision, giving Central the outright conference lead heading into the final week of the regular season.
With Naperville Central pitcher Keegan Hayes and Glenbard North pitcher Cece Dopart refusing to give an inch through four innings, Tassi broke the ice in the fifth inning with her fifth homer.
“I feel like (Dopart) was throwing down the plate for most of the game so I was just thinking, ‘Go after a good pitch,’” Tassi said. “And I got one. It felt great. I didn’t know if it was gone because I didn’t think it had enough height, but my first base coach let me know.”
Glenbard North answered with RBI singles in the bottom of the fifth from Kayla Quanstrum and Alex Caliva, but Central’s Maddi Doane hit a two-run homer in the seventh and Hayes shut the door on North in its final at-bat.
“Both teams have a lot of returning players from last year,” North coach Josh Sanew said. “We lost 4-1 and 5-2 to them this year, but it was 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth last game and 0-0 into the fifth. I was proud of the way we battled back.
“It’s two teams stacked with a lot of college players and it seems like every time we play them it’s that type of atmosphere and that type of battle.”
Glenbard North (21-5, 10-2) is currently ranked among the Sun-Times’ top 15 teams. No. 9 Naperville Central (22-5-10-1) is chasing its second consecutive DVC title and will have to get past Wheaton North and rival Naperville North next week to clinch.
Each team had eight hits, but Hayes didn’t give up an extra-base hit.
“I thought as the game went on, Keegan brought it,” Central catcher Kaitlyn Skarecky said. “She stepped up more and more and kept throwing that change for a strike, which was awesome. Every single inning she got better and better.”
Hayes struck out three, while Dopart fanned five. North’s Sarah Petzold and Sydney Benz had a pair of singles apiece, while Doane singled and Tassi doubled to go with their home runs, and teammate Katie Lamich finished with two singles.
The Redhawks knew they had a good pitcher to beat in Dopart, who tossed a perfect game Wednesday against West Aurora, and struck out 15 in a no-hitter against Wheaton North earlier this season.
“Playing a team like Glenbard North is always fun,” Tassi said. “They’re probably our next biggest rivals after Naperville North. It’s always a close game and good competition.”