ST. CHARLES – After losing 1-0 to Bartlett in the sectional final last year, Glenbard North was hoping for a shot at redemption this spring.
And courtesy of a 6-1 victory over South Elgin Wednesday, the Panthers will get an opportunity to avenge that loss, albeit against a different opponent.
With Lindsey Cherry tossing a one-hitter and Sydney Benz providing the big hit with a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning, Glenbard North advances to Saturday's 11 a.m. sectional final against No. 1-seed St. Charles East.
"With the season we had, we knew going into the playoffs that we had a good team," said Glenbard North coach Josh Sanew. "The goal was to at least get as far as last year and hopefully have a shot at getting that sectional title.
"It was a long summer (after losing last year), I know it was for me as a coach and I'm sure it was the same for the kids. I can remember everything that happened in that game, inning by inning. But that's in the past now. We are excited, it's No. 1 vs. No. 2. Last year No. 2 got out of the sectional and we are hoping it's the same this time."
This time around, the Panthers will match up against a Fighting Saints team that defeated Bartlett 11-2 in the other sectional semifinal Tuesday. In a bit of irony, Sanew went to high school with St. Charles East head coach Kelly Horan.
"I saw that they have a lot of lefties," Sanew said, "and all of them can slap and hit. They will put pressure on our defense for sure. We are looking for Lindsey to come out and throw like she did (Wednesday). She threw a great game."
Cherry indeed was in complete-control against South Elgin, allowing just a solo homer in the top of the fifth inning which knotted the score at one-apiece.
"Everything felt great," Cherry said, "and I came out mentally stronger. My team, everybody was on. I couldn't do it without them."
Offensively, Glenbard North was held scoreless until the fourth when Heather Sperlazzo drove in Benz with a double. Then in the fifth, Amanda Manton singled with one out and Steph Campos and Alex Caliva both walked to load the bases.
Benz stepped up and delivered a no-doubter to left and Ashley Stiver followed with a solo home run.
"I knew it was at least deep," Benz said, "and that was a good thing. All I was trying to do was get an RBI.
"Hits are my goal and if I happen to get a home run, that's great. I just want to get RBIs and help my team as much as I can."
Now the focus quickly shifts to Saturday.
"It's a chance at redemption," Benz added. "We would have liked to get another shot at Bartlett but we know St. Charles East is another good team. We will be ready for it."