In the early portion of its schedule this spring, Hammond is quickly establishing itself as one of the best small-ball teams in the area. Bunting, situational hitting to move runners over and delivering in the clutch have become calling cards for this Golden Bears’ group.
That said, as Lauren Hutchison showcased Wednesday afternoon against Marriotts Ridge, it doesn’t mean Hammond isn’t capable of playing the power game as well.
Putting an exclamation point on a, 5-0, road victory over the Mustangs, Hutchison delivered a home run over the left-centerfield fence in the top of the seventh inning that brought the Hammond bench to its feet.
“We traditionally get most of our runs from the top half of our line-up getting on base and using their speed — we’ve been doing that real effectively all season — but we also have those power hitters in our second half of our line-up that I thought really came alive today,” Hammond coach Brad Speierman said. “We got our last three runs today off the bottom half of our line-up, with Lauren leading that group.
“As she showed today, when she’s up there looking to just make good contact, she has over-the-fence power.”
Hutchison and Jill Purdy ended up driving in two runs apiece, while Keyuana Griffin bunted home the other run, to provide more than enough offense for pitcher Samantha Speierman.
Speierman allowed just two hits, striking out eight with one walk on her way to the shutout win. It certainly didn’t hurt that she pitched the entire game with a cushion of two runs or larger after the Golden Bears put a couple on the board in the top of the first.
“Sam is great, she is definitely capable of carrying us, but we want to do what we can to get her a few runs to work with,” said Purdy, whose RBI groundout plated Speierman for the game’s first run. “She’s even better with a lead.”
In addition to her day in the pitching circle, Samantha Speierman also delivered three singles at the plate. Katelynn Spingola came through with a couple base hits as well.
Marriotts Ridge hurt itself in that first inning with two errors and ended up making three on the day.
“Our bugaboo this year has been giving up way too many unearned runs and you saw that again early on today,” Marriotts Ridge coach Renard Parson said. “You just can’t do that against a team like Hammond and expect to win. We are getting better at focusing in and cleaning things up, but we’re just not where we need to be yet.”
Even though she was pitching from behind all afternoon, Marriotts Ridge pitcher Katie Smith did a tremendous job of keeping her team in the game. She scattered nine hits, a couple walks and a couple hit batters, but never let Hammond score more than one run in an inning after the first.
She struck out two and came through with some big pitches in tight spots.
“She does a great job of keeping her head up and stopping the bleeding before it can get too bad and that says a lot to her character,” Parson said. “Her resiliency keeps us in a lot of games.”
Hammond had built itself a 4-0 advantage heading into the seventh when Hutchison came up with one out and got a pitch she could handle to give her team a little more insurance.
“I like the ball a little high and I was able to drive it,” Hutchison said.
Marriotts Ridge got its pair of hits on the day from Isabella Sala and Deandra Fike.
At 5-0 now in county play and 6-0 overall, Hammond remains tied atop the league standings with Glenelg and River Hill.
“Everyone was underestimating us (before the season) and it feels great to come out on top of these games right now,” Hutchison said. “It’s early and there’s still a lot of season left so I don’t want to jinx us but we are definitely doing really well.”
Hammond 5, Marriotts Ridge 0