First-year Hampshire softball coach Stacey Stepek has been trying to instill in her team that good pitching, good defense and timely hitting is what wins games.
On Friday, the Whip-Purs put all three together and snapped a 6-game losing streak in the process.
Sophomore Haley Widmayer struck out a career-high 11 batters and allowed just 3 hits, while Jordan Hook and Becca Hurst homered in a 7-run fourth inning as Hampshire defeated St. Edward 7-2 in a nonconference game at Hampshire.
"She threw awesome today," said Stepek of Widmayer, who allowed just 3 singles and 2 walks. "She was excellent hitting her spots and keeping the ball low. We mixed it up a lot. It was good to have a chance to see what she can do against teams like this and that's a good team we played today."
Widmayer allowed only 1 earned run and struck out at least one batter in every inning.
"I was hitting my spots really good," Widmayer said. "I was getting it outside and then we'd go inside. My movement always helps. When I keep it moving they don't get hard hits."
Hampshire (4-11) got only 1 hit off St. Edward freshman Lindsay Zdroik, but Green Wave coach Jaci Corn pulled Zdroik after the third inning in favor of sophomore Angela Zenteno. The Green Wave defense let Zenteno down in the fourth by making 3 errors, and the Whips got a leadoff homer from Jordan Hook and then a grand slam blast from Becca Hurst. Widmayer also had a single in the inning.
Corn then went back to Zdroik for the remainder of the game. She allowed just 1 hit, a bloop single to Sara Finn in the sixth. In 5 innings, Zdroik struck out 8 and walked 2.
"We have two pitchers and they both need innings," said Corn, whose team had a 4-game winning streak snapped. "I put Lindsay back in not for anything Angela did wrong but we have to learn to play defense with Angela pitching."
Allison Stratman walked and scored on an error in the fifth for St. Edward, and Zdroik singled, went to second on Stratman's fielder's choice and alertly scored from there on Kristi Kroll's groundout in the seventh.
But other than that St. Edward (8-5) had trouble all day with Widmayer, who said it was the best game she's pitched in high school.
"Give (Widmayer) credit, she pitched a nice game," Corn said, "but we should not be striking out 11 times against anyone. Our approach at the plate today was terrible."
For Hampshire, which has had several close losses this season, the win was a welcome sight.
"Three at once," Widmayer said of the pitching, defense and hitting. "All three came together today."
Stepek was also pleased with her team's defense, which included catcher Finn throwing speedy Green Wave senior Kali Kossakowski (2 hits) out at second trying to steal, and then Becca Hurst firing from first to third base in the sixth to nab Kossakowski trying to go from first to third on Ashley Gradisher's slap grounder.
"Those were really huge momentum plays for us," Stepek said.
"It's starting to click and come together. We've always got two of the three but today's the first day we got the bats going, had the defense where it needs to be and our pitching shut down their offense."
Hampshire will play a home-and-away doubleheader today, facing Belvidere at 11 a.m. then heading to Dundee-Crown for a Fox Valley Conference game at 2 p.m. St. Edward plays Larkin at 10 a.m. today in the first round of the Larkin Slugfest at the Elgin Sports Complex.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.