Christina Stankus, pitcher. Christina Stankus, hitter. Bartlett star keeps them separate. ‘It is a difficult task.’

Christina Stankus has two distinct roles for Bartlett.

The junior right-hander is the team’s No. 1 pitcher and also bats in the No. 2 spot in the order. She feels keeping them separate helps her win the mind game that’s very much a part of softball.

“It is a difficult task,” said Stankus, who bats left-handed. “Having to be the person in the circle and having to be a key contributor at the plate, and I definitely have had some struggles with that.

“I have worked on the mental side, trying to separate the person I am on the mound and the person I am at the plate. It has really helped being two separate people instead of one.”

Stankus had both roles working Monday for the Hawks in a come-from-behind 8-5 Upstate Eight win over host South Elgin, an old nemesis which entered the game as the conference leader.

Junior outfielder Emma Engels delivered the decisive hit with a three-run homer in the fifth inning for Bartlett (14-8, 7-4). Bella Florio had two hits, including a two-run double, for the Storm (15-8, 10-1).

“It’s special when you beat your rival,” Stankus said. “I have been playing on the varsity for three years now, and this is my first time beating South Elgin in the seven games we’ve played them.”

Stankus was on third base for Engels’ second homer of the season.

“Emma is not afraid of the big moment,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said of Engels, an individual state wrestling champion as a sophomore who took sixth last season.

“All of the swings she had (Monday) were solid against a really good pitcher. I thought she had a really good approach.”

For the second time this season, Stankus was matched up against junior left-hander Anna Kiel, who struck out 11 for South Elgin. Engels said facing Kiel before may have helped.

“She’s got a nasty curveball and a nasty screwball,” Engels said of Kiel. “Both pitches move so much. I had some confidence because I had a single off her the first time.”

South Elgin won the first game between the two teams this spring 11-1 in five innings.

“(Kiel) definitely has more speed than me and she’s definitely more of a strikeout pitcher,” Stankus said. “I’m definitely more of a weak contact pitcher. I may average 5-6 strikeouts a game.”

Stankus (10-8) has a 3.36 ERA with 128 strikeouts in 112 innings.

“With the spin I have on my pitches,” she said, “I know if I put the ball in the zone, I have a defense that’s going to make the play behind me.”

It worked this time.

Stankus did not have a 1-2-3 inning, striking out just one while giving up nine hits and five walks while hitting two batters.

But after spotting the Storm 3-0 and 5-4 leads, Stankus held them scoreless while stranding six over the final three innings.

“We outhit them but we had four errors,” South Elgin coach Brad Reynard said. “Stankus got a little confidence as the game went on. She pretty much dominated late. Hats off to her.

“I think it’s gonna be a good wake-up call for our crew if they want to make any sort of noise in the playoffs.”

Stankus, who is hitting .331 with two home runs, took part in both rallies with a single and a walk.

“She’s a monster part of our offense,” Wolfsmith said. “The No. 2 hole is really hard.”

As a pitcher, Wolfsmith pointed out, Stankus was tough as nails.

“With the wind blowing out, our concern was keeping the ball in the field,” he said. “But she did a tremendous job keeping them off-balance.”

He called a late-inning timeout to deliver a message — to his infielders, not his pitcher.

“Take the outs, don’t try to make a hero play and turn a one-run inning into a three-run inning,” he said. “I don’t need to talk to Christina. She talks to herself enough.”

Even better? She listens.