When Nicole Casagrand stepped into the pitching circle in the bottom of the first inning for the Hatboro-Horsham softball team, it wasn't strange that she was wearing sunglasses.

The sun wasn't glaringly bright, but it had begun to peek through the clouds.

By the fifth inning, though, the sun had gone away and the rain had started. And Casagrand entered the circle with her sunglasses on anyway.

It's the lefthander's superstition. If she starts a game with her sunglasses on, as she did Tuesday in an 11-5 win over Suburban One Continental foe North Penn, she's going to finish with them on, too.

But the shades also serve a more practical purpose.

"I think it is easier to pitch with sunglasses on," Casagrand said. "When I get frustrated out there I have sunglasses to hide my emotions. It kind of covers you up."

Casagrand scattered seven hits, struck out two, and induced 10 ground outs over seven innings, helping Hatboro-Horsham snap its two-game losing streak. She also drove in two runs.

"This was a huge win," Casagrand said. "We wanted to come out, end our losing streak, which was so unlike us."

The Hatters (12-3 overall, 9-3 conference), ranked fourth in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, jumped out to a 9-0 lead after two innings, batting around the lineup in both innings.

Their bats cooled until the fourth, when Jen Cader hit a ball soaring over the center-field fence for a home run.

The Maidens (9-7, 5-7) battled back, getting two runs in the fourth and two in the fifth, before the Hatters answered with another solo shot, this one by Heather Lutz.

"We knew we couldn't let up," Cader said. "The home run by Heather helped us with our confidence to get back up again."

Said Maidens coach Rick Torresani: "We didn't play well . . . but they fought back."

With the win, the Hatters remain in a four-way tie for first place in the Continental. The Maidens, meanwhile, hope to get a berth in the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs.

"Every game we play could go either way because every team is so good in the league," Casagrand said. "It's not done until the last game. "

Hatboro-Horsham 450 101 0 - 11 14 0

North Penn 000 221 0 - 5 7 3

WP: Nicole Casagrand. LP: Jackie Bilotti. 2B: NP-Michelle Holweger 2, Lauren Ostopowicz. HR: HH-Heather Lutz, Jen Cader.