CARY – With the bases loaded in the first inning Thursday, Cary-Grove cleanup hitter Emma Hill was thinking about poking the ball to the opposite field.
“Definitely going right side,” Hill said of her approach with three runners on. “Then my runner on third can tag up and at least score one run. Challenge the field to make a play and at least put the ball in play."
The junior sent the ball screaming down the right-field line – exactly where she was hoping to hit it – for a first-inning triple. The three runs put C-G on top in what was eventually a 10-0 win over Crystal Lake Central in five innings.
"I was really excited," Hill said. "I really wanted to be in that situation."
Hill later hit a two-run home run to left field, bringing her total to five RBIs for the game. She also pitched all five innings for the Trojans (6-1, 3-0 Fox Valley Conference), striking out four and allowing one hit.
“Everything was working pretty well,” Hill said. “I felt really good. My defense backed me up really well.”
C-G recorded 12 hits in five innings, including six extra-base hits. Kelly Johnson went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three runs scored.
Central’s Clare Urbanski had the Tigers’ lone hit, a double in the fourth inning. Hailey Geske suffered the loss, pitching three innings and allowing eight runs, seven earned. Morgan Paaske pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for the Tigers (3-2, 0-2 FVC).
“There was no break in their lineup,” Central coach Brian Strombom said. “They did a nice job. They squared it up. Their pitcher did a nice job controlling the game. She used the changeup well.”
Hill retired the first 10 batters she faced. She is relatively new to the circle for the varsity squad. Hill hit well for the Trojans last season as a sophomore, but didn’t have too many opportunities to pitch.
“She didn’t pitch a lot last year,” C-G coach Tammy Olson said. “As a junior, we’re just seeing. She’s improved a ton. She’s our pitcher this year and we’ll just keep on developing as we go through the season with her.”
Olson was happy with the production up and down the Trojans' lineup. All nine hitter reached base at least once.
"They all contributed. It was good to see," Olson said. “I don’t think anybody really had a bad approach today. I was really happy with all of them. It was one after another. With that in the lineup, it’s tough.
"They get on, they get their base hits. They’re not looking for the home runs, they’re looking to hit the ball square.”
Even if she wasn’t looking for a homer, Hill still knocked one out in the fourth inning. The home run was her first of the season.
She also drew a walk, finishing the day 3 for 4 with two runs scored.
“It felt great off the bat,” Hill said of the home run. “It was the pitch I really wanted. I saw it, it was low and I love low pitches.”
One day after hitting a game-winning single against Prairie Ridge, C-G’s Anna Whitaker went 2 for 3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Leadoff hitter Katy Wieczorek went 3 for 4 with a double and a run scored.
"It was a team win," Hill said. "We all were really focused. I think we really honed in."
STAR OF THE GAME
Emma Hill, Cary-Grove, Jr., P
Hill pitched all five innings, allowing only one hit and striking out four. At the plate, Hill clubbed a two-run home run and a three-run triple, while going 3 for 4.
1: Hill held Crystal Lake Central to one hit, a Clare Urbanski double in the fourth.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Central coach Brian Strombom felt the Tigers were making better contact the second time through the lineup, they just seemed to keep hitting it right to the defense.
"There were a lot of well-hit balls," Strombom said. "I wish those things would have gotten down."