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Before playoffs, Downers Grove North softball wins fourth straight conference title

West Suburban Silver champs then top Plainfield North 8-0 in playoff opener

Bill Ackerman –
Downers Grove North's Carolyn Nojiri is greeted at home after her solo home run April 30 at Hinsdale Central.
Bill Ackerman – Downers Grove North's Carolyn Nojiri is greeted at home after her solo home run April 30 at Hinsdale Central.

DOWNERS GROVE - Mission accomplished.

When the season began, Downers Grove North's softball team set the goal of winning the West Suburban Silver conference title. The Trojans met that goal, finishing off their title run with a 10-0 win over Lyons Township on May 16, just three days after the Lions handed North it's only conference loss in a 3-2 contest.

In a well-rounded team effort, the whole starting lineup contributed on offense. Carolyn Nojiri, Brit Nagy, and Emma Varsbergs each had two hits. Hannah Mrazek had a pinch-hit double with the bases loaded to drive in three runs. Nojiri finished the conference season with a .750 batting average (27-for-36).

It was the fourth straight conference title for North (23-8, 11-1 WSS), which previously had an extended conference championship drought.

"It was nice. It was a great accomplishment, especially for our seniors to do it all four years," North coach Mark Magro said. "There wasn't any big celebration. We only celebrated a little bit because LT beat us right before that and the girls wanted to show them that we were a much better team than that.

"We got our first goal out of the way and now we're on to our next one."

The next goal is a regional title. The playoff pursuit began Tuesday with an 8-0 win over Plainfield North in a regional semifinal game at Downers Grove North. The Trojans will face either Oswego East or Willowbrook in the regional championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday, where they will look to re-write recent history. Despite successful regular seasons the last three years, the Trojans haven't won a regional title since 2010.

Coming down the stretch, the Trojans dealt with some nagging injuries to Nojiri, catcher Mrazek and pitcher Elaine Heflin. Magro was thinking a day of rest Monday would benefit all of them before the playoff run. North, a No. 3 sectional seed, is the top seed in the regional, but it hadn't played any of its potential regional opponents (Oswego, Plainfield North, Oswego East and Willowbrook) this season. It just reinforces the message Magro has had for his team all season.

"We're not going to overlook anybody," he said. "Anybody we play can beat us, and we can beat anybody on any given day. If we're fortunate to get by Oswego or Plainfield North, then we know we have two pretty good teams that could be waiting for us."

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