Baserunners: Cary-Grove took advantage of them. Huntley, well, not so much.
That was the difference as the Trojans defeated Huntley, 4-3, in a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division softball showdown in Huntley Tuesday.
The Trojans scored 3 times in the first inning and pitcher Lauren Stanley and the Cary-Grove defense made it stand up.
Cary-Grove (16-3, 7-2) had just 5 hits but made the most of them. The Red Raiders knocked out 9 hits against Stanley. Huntley left 8 runners on base. The Trojan defense turned 2 double plays and caught a runner stealing.
"Scoring early certainly helped," said C-G coach Tammy Olson, whose team is back in a first-place tie with Prairie Ridge and McHenry in the Valley after Jacobs upset PR Tuesday.
"Getting 3 in the first. It's definitely nice, and it's definitely good for Lauren, but this team can hit. With all those slappers, they can cause trouble, and they certainly did in the middle of the game, putting us on the ropes."
After Cary-Grove's first 2 batters of the game reached, Jamie Deering bunted them over. Sarah Leudo singled in the first run and Caroline Zasadil plated 2 more with a rocket off the glove of third baseman Megan Baczewski.
After that, Huntley starter Haley Spannraft settled into a groove. She retired 8 in a row at one point.
"She's been great for us all year," said Huntley coach Mark Petryniec. "After that first inning, she settled down, hit her pitches, and kept a very good hitting team at bay."
Sarah Kendeigh broke that string with a line single to left and wound up scoring an insurance run to make it 4-1. That run proved huge, because the Red Raiders continued to chip away.
Ashley Laxner drove in Huntley's first run with a sacrifice fly in the second. The Raiders had a chance for more, but left the bases loaded.
Huntley (16-8, 4-6) added a run in the fifth. After opening the inning with singles by Spannraft, Brittany Koss, and Miranda Peterson, Baczewski drove in a run while reaching on an error. But Stanley converted a sharp come backer into a 1-2-3 double play to escape further damage.
An RBI single by Jessica Shields in the sixth made it 4-3, but that was as close as Huntley could get.
Peterson singled with one out in the seventh, but Baczewski's line shot was hit right at Kendeigh at first base, who easily doubled up the pinch runner.
"We've got to take advantage of our opportunities," said Petryniec. "They're a great team we played against. They put the ball in the right holes and a lot of positive things happened. We had a lot of runners on base and we just need to get over that hump."