Softball: Neuqua Valley’s Rainer nearly perfect against Willowbrook

While a 3-2 pitch that resulted in a walk could have gone either way, Julia Rainer and her Neuqua Valley teammates had very little to complain about on Monday afternoon.

That walk to Amy Bussa prevented Rainer from five innings of perfection, but the Wildcats pitcher did walk away with a no-hitter and a 10-0 victory over Willowbrook in the first-round of Class 4A regional play in Naperville.

Rainer’s teammates jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a 6-hit first inning and then added 5 more runs in the fourth inning to knock off Willowbrook in five innings and advance to Tuesday’s game against Plainfield North, the No. 2 seed in the Bolingbrook sectional.

“I came out nervous because it’s our first regional, but I feel very confident in the team because we’ve been on such a roll lately,” said Rainer, who had 10 strikeouts and allowed just one baserunner. “My catcher, Danielle (Olson), was calling great pitches as usual. I always feel good when she catches me and I guess it was working for me today.”

What also feels good is an early lead. When the first seven Neuqua Valley batters reached safely against the Warriors’ Veronica Swan — 6 hits and an error — Rainer had herself a 5-0 lead after one inning. Abby Meeks had a 2-run triple and Paige Price, Chloe Steinhaus, 16u John Steinhaus, and Olson each added run-scoring hits in the first.

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