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
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River Hill 17, Wilde Lake 0 (5 innings)
Courtney Colosimo pitched a one-hitter, striking out seven batters and walking one, and also added a double at the plate to help lead the Hawks to the shutout victory. April Gruenke added a triple, while Caroline Hickey, Kinsey Johnson and Sabrina Curtiss all came through with doubles. For the game, River Hill had 21 hits.
Kourtney Harrison produced the lone hit for Wilde Lake in the loss. Senior Rose O’Rourke did a solid job on the mound, keeping the score at 1-0 in favor of River Hill through the first two innings.
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Howard 5, Long Reach 0
The Lions got a great all-around game from Kayli Paugh, who pitched six scoreless innings and struck out eight batters in addition to hitting a two-run home run, on their way to the victory over the Lightning. Katie Wilkinson added a double for a Howard team that finished with six hits.
Long Reach’s defense did a good job keeping the team in the game, with pitcher Isa Carunungan striking out five. She also had a double at the plate. Andrea Padilla produced the team’s other two hits, finishing 2-3 on the afternoon.
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Atholton 3, Reservoir 2 (9 innings)
The Raiders needed extra innings, but again found a way to pull out a victory in a close game Wednesday. Junior captain Maya Schwartz had a huge double in the eighth inning to score the tying run to keep Atholton (5-1, 6-1) alive and then junior Jamie Cardea delivered a base hit in the ninth to drive in the winning run.
Atholton pitcher Alex Herschman came through with another gem of a pitching performance, including 11 strikeouts in nine innings. She is now 6-1 in seven outings this season. Herschman added a 3-4 day at the plate with a run scored.
Reservoir’s three hits came courtesy of Carly Clarke, Tara Thompson and Sophia Sommerkamp. Clarke drove in Monica Lamm and Sommerkamp drove in Desiree Davis for the Gators’ two runs.
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Mt. Hebron 16, Centennial 2
After two tough losses in a row, the Viking bats came to life and pounded out 13 hits, including three doubles and two triples.
Evvie Buehlman led the offense by going 4-5 with two doubles, a triple and seven RBI. Alli Bluhm doubled and scored three times, Stephanie Bluhm scored four times and Sammi Cadigan tripled and scored twice.
Anna Sutherland made the play of the game defensively when she made a spectacular backhand stop for a putout. Buehlman was on the mound and got off to a rough start with two walks and two hits in the first inning to fall behind 2-0, but she settled in to only allow three base runners the rest of the game. She finished with five strikeouts.
The Vikings broke the game open in the second inning with four runs and then added another two in the third. With the bases loaded, Buehlman cleared them with a triple to center.
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Glenelg 10, Oakland Mills 0
The Gladiators opened the game with three straight singles to produce the game’s first run and kept things rolling the rest of the way to keep their undefeated record in tact. The offense produced five more runs in the third and another four in the fourth.
Clutch hits were provided by Morgan Perry (2-3, 2 runs, 3 RBI), Brooke Redmond (2-3, 2 doubles, run, 2 RBI) and Mandy Bendix during those early innings.
Bendix also excelled as the team’s pitcher, going the full five innings, striking out five and allowing just one hit. She picked up her first win of the season.
Oakland Mills had its chances to get on the board. The Scorpions loaded the bases in the fourth inning with no outs, but Bendix struck out the next batter and got back-to-back groundouts to escape the jam. Then in the fifth, Oakland Mills again got a runner to third base but was unable to knock her in.
Sydney Helinger was responsible for that one hit for the Scorpions. Tori Gordon pitched for Oakland Mills and struck out six batters.
Glenelg also got nice days at the plate from Toni Pritchard (2-2, 2 runs, 1 stolen base) and Sharon Mielke (2-2, run).
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