It took a few innings for the Burlington Central softball team to get its bats going on Senior Day Wednesday, but when the Rockets did it was another hit parade.
Held to a run on 2 hits in the first three innings by Hampshire senior Jennifer Hurst. Central broke out and scored 7 runs on 11 hits in its final three at-bats for an 8-1 nonconference win.
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"It was just the excitement of Senior Day and everyone being all giddy," smiled BC senior second baseman Lauren King, who was recognized with classmates Melanie Gajewski, Rebecca Roscher and Mackenzie Paschke.
"It took a couple innings for us to warm up and once we did, we were hitting."
And how. Central (25-2) took a 1-0 lead in the first when freshman Kayla Ross led off with a triple and scored on Courtni Neubauer's fielder's choice grounder. Hampshire (10-18) tied the game in the third on consecutive singles from Aly Snider, Jordan Hook and Becca Hurst and it stood 1-1 into the bottom of the fourth when the Rockets led off with three straight singles from Brooke Gaylord, Emily Kisch and King to score a run. They took a 3-1 lead when Gajewski laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt to score Kisch.
BC really broke loose in the fifth and sixth innings. Gaylord had a 2-run triple and Kisch an RBI single in the fifth, and Gaylord ripped a 2-run double in the sixth. She was 3-for-4 with 4 RBI for the day.
"They've got great hitters 1-9," said Hampshire coach Stacey Stepek of the Rockets "It's pretty hard to shut them down a whole game. We tried to keep them off balance but a team that good is hard to keep down for too long."
Neubauer was 3-for-4, Kisch 2-for-3 and King 2-for-3 for Central. Haley Widmayer was 2-for-3 with a double for the Whip-Purs.
"I thought we were a little timid in the batter's box and took too many third strikes," said Stepek. "We could have had better at-bats but she's a good pitcher."
"She" is Kisch, who allowed 6 hits while striking out 12 and walking just 1.
"There was a lot of stuff going on today and Hampshire does a nice job," said BC coach Wade Maisto. "Their record is very misleading. (Stepek) is doing a great job there. Hampshire won't beat themselves, you have to beat them. I thought my girls executed really well today.
"When the pitchers are throwing well and the defense is doing what they're supposed to be doing, our hitting takes care of itself. I'm real happy with the other phases of the game right now."
The Rockets and Whips could meet again next Tuesday in a Class 3 Sycamore regional semifinal if Hampshire can beat Sycamore on Monday. Before that though the Rockets, the top seed in the regional, will play at Barrington (28-1) on Friday and then meet perennial Class 4A power Lockport on Saturday at the Stone City Jamboree in Minooka.
"We know we've got our work cut out for us Friday and Saturday," said Maisto, "but that's what we want, to play a couple tough teams before we play in a tough regional."