Athlete of the Week
Prairie Ridge, fr., P
Only a freshman, Baker has pitched like an experienced veteran delivering three big performances this past week to lead the Wolves to three Fox Valley Conference Valley Division wins against some of the top teams in the division. In Prairie Ridge’s three wins, Baker held Huntley to three runs, limited Jacobs to one run on five hits Monday and surrendered just one run against Crystal Lake South on Tuesday while striking out 10 batters.
South pitcher battles back: It has been quite the eventful past four weeks for Crystal Lake South ace pitcher Hailee Massie.
The junior developed pneumonia during spring break near the end of March, and Massie said she only started feeling back to normal at the beginning of last week. Massie acknowledged it was a tough road getting back into game shape because of the pneumonia.
“I couldn’t really breathe, and I couldn’t really speak either,” Massie said of her illness. “Now, it’s much better.”
Massie has gotten stronger as the season has gone on, culminating in an effort Tuesday against the Prairie Ridge that Gators coach Scott Busam called her best performance of the season.
Hampshire’s offense clicking: No one should be surprised to see Hampshire sitting at the top of the FVC Fox.
The Whip-Purs, who are 3-0 in division play, have relied on a mix of steady pitching from junior Haley Widmayer and an offense that has shown it can score at will, led by senior catcher Sara Finn.
Hampshire coach Stacey Stepek said the difference this season is having more players with varsity experience who have played on travel teams and seen quicker pitching.
“Up until this point, I'd say our girls have been able to get around on the quicker pitching and do better against someone who throws with a little more heat,” Stepek said. “They've been able to get around on it and shortened up on swings.”
Hampshire will have a good test Thursday against Grayslake Central, which is 2-0 in the division.
Wolves still unblemished: Prairie Ridge remains the lone undefeated team in FVC Valley play this season, sporting a 4-0 record.
While freshman pitcher Hailey Baker’s performance has certainly contributed to the Wolves’ stellar start, coach Mike Buck’s offense – top to bottom – has given opposing pitchers problems. Buck believes teams focus more on the top of the lineup under the assumption those are the best hitters.
“Our philosophy behind it is we try to keep our lineup balanced so we have some people at the bottom who can produce runs too and set up the top of the order,” Buck said.
This week’s top games
Prairie Ridge at Cary-Grove
4:30 p.m. Wednesday
The Wolves play their third conference game in three days against a C-G team that is an annual contender for the FVC Valley title.
Jacobs at Huntley
4:30 p.m. Wednesday
Huntley is looking for a much-needed win after losing two of three conference games, though the Red Raiders will be challenged by a Jacobs offense that is capable of putting up a bunch of runs.
Harvard at Richmond-Burton
4:30 p.m. Thursday
The Hornets are looking to avenge an early-season loss to R-B, which is on a three-game winning streak.