Athlete of the Week
Hampshire, so., SS
Rummell was the catalyst for Hampshire's perfect week, hitting .789 (15 for 19) out of the leadoff spot with nine extra-base hits. The Whip-Purs went 5-0 and won the Chicagoland Challenge title, scoring 41 runs on 49 hits in three tournament games.
The Illinois commit hit five home runs, three doubles and a triple, scoring 15 runs and driving in 12. Rummell, who missed freshman year after undergoing her second ACL surgery in two-plus years, also stole six bases.
Northwest Herald Power Rankings
1. Marengo (15-2): The Indians have won eight straight games and have 22 home runs through 17 games. Mariah Dionne already matched last season's total with eight homers, while six other Marengo players have hit two or more. The Indians lead the Kishwaukee River Conference with a 5-0 record and have won 55 straight conference games going back to 2013.
2. Huntley (9-4): The Red Raiders are on a six-game winning streak and are the only Fox Valley Conference team without a loss at 5-0. Rylie Porretto, who had a school-record 47 RBIs last season, smacked a walk-off homer in the seventh Monday to complete a 5-4 comeback win over Jacobs. Huntley beat Cary-Grove, 6-3, on Wednesday.
3. Prairie Ridge (9-1): The Wolves suffered their first loss of the year to Crystal Lake South, 5-4, then defeated Dundee-Crown, 4-1, behind a strong pitching performance from Hailey Baker. The Wolves are second in the FVC at 4-1.
4. Hampshire (8-4): The Whip-Purs went 5-0 last week, going 3-0 at the Chicagoland Challenge and defeating Genoa-Kingston, 11-1, in the final. Since losing to Prairie Ridge, 19-9, on April 11, Hampshire (3-1 FVC) hasn't lost and is averaging 13 runs a game.
5. Jacobs (7-4-1): The Golden Eagles hung with Huntley and took a 4-1 lead in the sixth but were unable to hang on. On Wednesday, they bounced back with a 3-0 win over Crystal Lake South. Freshman Savannah Svedman pitched a four-hit shutout for Jacobs, which improved to 2-2 in the FVC.
Home run party: Marengo already has more home runs (22) this season in 17 games than it had all of last year (21) in 39 games. Dionne leads the team with eight, while Lauren Aubry and Megan Anthony each have three. Anna Walsweer, Grace Houghton, Leah Secor and Susie Nawrot have two apiece.
As a team, the Indians are hitting .384/.457/.631 with 72 extra-base hits, including 48 doubles. Marengo used the long ball against Sterling last week, belting three homers in a 7-1 win. On Tuesday, they hit six home runs in a 21-2 win over Woodstock, improving to 5-0 in the KRC.
The long ball hasn't gone unnoticed by Indians coach Dwain Nance in the team's early success.
"One of the things we did well today was we capitalized on some home runs," Nance said of his team's win against Sterling, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Warriors. "That's how we scored all seven. That's something the we have not done against their pitchers. It was exciting."
Anybody's game: Huntley survived a real scare from Jacobs on Monday, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the Golden Eagles and winning on a walk-off homer in the seventh.
Last year, Huntley won their first nine conference games before falling to Cary-Grove in their last FVC game, finishing 9-1 and claiming the FVC Valley Division title. The Red Raiders entered this year as one of the conference favorites, and they're off to a 5-0 start to pace the nine-team FVC.
Still, close games such as Huntley's 5-4 win over Jacobs is a theme Raiders coach Mark Petryniec expects to see more of as the season plays out. Before the season, he called the FVC "the new SEC of the north" with so many teams returning top starters.
"I told you earlier in the year, the Fox Valley Conference is going to be like this," Petryniec said. "I think on any given day, it's anybody's game. It was our first time seeing [Jacobs freshman pitcher Savannah Svedman]. Early in the game, she had us off, and we didn't make an adjustment until that sixth inning. It's going to be a battle all year."
Even though her team lost, Jacobs coach Katie O'Brien is hopeful the Golden Eagles can make a big impact in the FVC race. The Eagles went 5-5 in the FVC Valley last year, tying for third place.
"If we can play games like this, as close as we can, and we turn over the conference the other way, we're going to surprise some teams," O'Brien said.
What to Watch
Crystal Lake South at Hampshire
4:30 p.m. Friday
The Gators and Whip-Purs both expect to contend for the FVC title, and this early-season battle is important to each team's chances.
Huntley at Prairie Ridge
4:30 p.m. Tuesday
The two FVC division winners from last season meet for the first of two regular-season meetings.
Jacobs at McHenry
4:30 p.m. Monday
This Eagles lineup is the best coach Katie O'Brien has had in three years, while McHenry is led by a strong bunch of underclassmen.