CRYSTAL LAKE – Without any extra-base hits in her first three games, Marian Central's Maggie Finnegan tweaked her approach against Crystal Lake Central in hopes of finding more power.
"I really wanted to focus on my dynamics and power today instead of just going up there and swinging away," said Finnegan, who committed to Penn State at age 15.
Batting leadoff, the 5-foot-6 sophomore didn't disappoint. Finnegan pulled the third pitch she saw from Tigers pitcher Hailey Geske to deep left-center field, chasing left fielder Morgann Paaske to the fence 300 feet away.
Finnegan, who hit four homers as a freshman, never stopped running, rounding third and scoring on an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the first inning.
In her next at-bat, Finnegan attacked the second pitch from starting pitcher Hailey Geske, ripping a liner over Paaske's head to drive in a run. This time, with the Tigers playing closer to the fence, Hurricanes coach Erin Widmayer stopped Finnegan at third base.
Finnegan added a single in the third, finishing 3 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Hurricanes to a 4-1 nonconference win over Crystal Lake Central at Lippold Park.
Finnegan didn't have a chance at a cycle with her spot due up fifth in the bottom of the sixth.
"Even at our place, those probably both would have been out," Widmayer said of Finnegan's first two hits. "I only held her at third because they started playing her off the fence. I always know she can do that. Today, she flipped the switch big time."
In the circle, senior Maddie Peters allowed an unearned run on two hits with six strikeouts and four walks. She didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning when Jess Cruz came through with a two-out triple to score Kaylie Jeter (1 for 3).
Peters (1-1) retired the final seven batters and allowed only two base runners in the final four innings for Marian (3-1), winners of three straight.
"I was really just trying to work the inside-outside, and keep it low," said Peters, who has a 1.75 ERA in three games. "I just wanted to keep my pitches down as low as I can, just to eliminate any hits and help my defense out."
The Hurricanes (3-0) jumped on Geske early, scoring all four runs in the first two innings. Laura Black scored on a wild pitch, and Ryan Klinger drove in Finnegan after she tripled and drove in Ellen Sharp (1 for 2).
Geske settled down after the second for the Tigers (2-2), allowing only two base runners over the final four innings. She allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
"She has not had a whole lot of innings the last couple of years as a pitcher," Tigers coach Brian Strombom said. "But she's been called upon, and we asked her to take that role and she's up to it. She's not the type that's going to shake a challenge."
Maddie Peters, Marian Central, sr., P
Peters didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning with two outs. The 5-foot-9 senior went all seven innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits with six strikeouts and four walks.
8: Total bases for Marian Central sophomore Maggie Finnegan (home run, triple, single)
AND ANOTHER THING…
With runners on first and second and nobody out, Marian Central first baseman Jamie Gatz made a diving catch in foul territory in top of the third to retire Jess Cruz. Finnegan, playing shortstop, sneaked behind the runner on second base and Gatz threw her out for a double play.
Marian Central 4, Crystal Lake Central 1
Crystal Lake Central 000 010 0 – 1 3 1
Marian Central 130 000 X – 4 6 2
WP: Maddie Peters (7IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 4BB, 6K). LP: Hailey Geske (6IP, 4R, 2ER, 6H, 0BB, 3K).
Top hitters–Crystal Lake Central: Jess Cruz 1-3 (3B, RBI), Jeter 1-3 (R). Marian Central: Maggie Finnegan 3-3 (HR, 3B, 2RBI), Ryan Klinger 1-3 (RBI), Black 1-3 (R), Sharp 1-2 (R).