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updated: 5/7/2014 10:59 PM

Hampshire orders up a win at Grayslake Central

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By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent

Let's be honest -- those players who bat 7, 8 and 9 in a batting order are in those spots because they don't hit as well as the players who bat 1-6.

But then, there are always exceptions to the rule. Such as Hampshire's convincing 6-1 win over Grayslake Central on Wednesday.

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Seventh-place hitter Erin Doyle had 2 hits and drove in a run for the winners. Batting No. 8 for Hampshire was Renee Malecke, who had a pair of hits and drew a walk. And finally, the No. 9 hitter for the Whip-Purs was Ashley Van Acker. She singled and doubled, drove in a run and scored once.

The lone offensive highlight for the host Rams came with one out in the seventh. Eighth-place hitter Teagan Truskowski positively pounded a softball over the fence for her first homer of the season.

Hampshire (17-9, 8-0) struck early in this important battle in ther Fox Valley Conference Fox Division. The Whip-Purs batted eight hitters in the opening frame and scored twice. Becca Hurst (2-4) and Brittany Sujet got credit for the runs batted in. Winning pitcher Haley Widmayer doubled in a run in the second and the visitors were up 3-0.

The eighth consecutive victory in the conference put Hampshire clearly in a good spot. Widmayer, a junior, noted her team is kind of a surprise this season.

"Our senior pitcher graduated,'' Widmayer said. "So I don't think people expected us to do this well. But we have a good offense and we work well as a team."

Malecke singled and scored in a 3-run fifth inning. This right fielder is a freshman.

"I'm just so excited about this team,'' Malecke said. "We really communicate well on this team."

Van Acker drove the ball well most of the day. Her first at-bat was dropped at the base of the wall. She closed the scoring for her team with a double in the fifth inning.

"We love playing a strong team like Grayslake Central,'' Van Acker said. "We pulled it out and got the runs we needed for a good win."

Grayslake Central coach Jason Schaal gave credit to the winning pitcher, Widmayer.

"She pitched well,'' Schaal said. "We didn't hit the ball well enough. The last time we lost to them, she struck out 10. This time we only struck out three times. The credit goes to Hampshire."

The Rams (15-8, 6-2) had their best early shot at scoring in the second inning. A walk, hit batsman and the first of two Theresa Curtis singles loaded the bases. Widmayer got out of the jam.

Truskowski's no-doubt-about homer came with one out in the seventh.

"The whole game, I wasn't hitting so well,'' Truskowski said. "I had a pop to right field and a strikeout. So I was going to do something about it. I felt it right away."

So what's happened at Hampshire? And why are the Whip-Purs in first place?

"Last year, we really struggled at the plate,'' said Hampshire coach Stacey Stepek. "This year, we have a little more experience. We really came out ready to play today."

It wasn't only the bottom of the order hitting the ball in this game. Hurst, hitting clean-up for Hampshire, opened the 3-run fifth inning with a booming double off the left field wall.

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