MARENGO – With the wind blowing out to left field on Tuesday, Marengo's Hannah Ritter and the Indians' lineup worked extra hard on lifting the ball, hoping to find the other side of the outfield fence.
The approach at the plate paid off as the Indians hit four home runs, including two from Ritter, and defeated Richmond-Burton, 14-4, in five innings in the teams' Kishwaukee River Conference softball game.
"We're all about elevating the ball anyways," Ritter said. "But on a day like today, if you get it up, it's gonna carry."
Ritter, who was 3 for 3 with two RBIs and three runs scored batting cleanup, had solo homers in the fourth and fifth innings against R-B pitcher Sophie Schwegel. Her second ended the game by slaughter rule and came immediately after Grace Houghton hit her team-leading eighth home run of the season, a two-run shot.
Marengo coach Dwain Nance said the Indians took extra swings at Monday's practice with similar windy conditions. The Indians (14-3 overall, 6-0 KRC) now have 20 homers after going deep 44 times during the team's Class 3A state championship run last season.
"On a windy day, we talked about just getting the ball in the air," Nance said. "Up and down the lineup, we're competitive ... and I like that about this team. Every day when you look at our line score, there's somebody else going 3 for 3 with three or four RBIs."
The Indians finished with 14 hits against Rockets starting pitcher Jesse Klicker and Schwegel. Marengo second baseman Anna Walsweer (3 for 3, four RBIs) hit a two-run homer in the second, and the Indians batted around in the third, scoring four times, to take a 7-0 lead.
The Rockets responded with four runs in the top of the fourth inning. Sophomore shortstop Peyton Bannon had a two-run double against Riley Connell, and the Rockets (5-5, 4-3) added runs on an error and a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the fourth, Ritter hit the first pitch she saw from Schwegel high and over the left-field fence, stopping any momentum the Rockets had gained.
"That was great," Ritter said. "It's all about momentum. Everybody can execute on the team; we've proven that. It's just getting back into a rhythm."
Houghton's home run in the fifth was the fourth straight hit for Marengo. The Indians scored five runs on five hits in the inning.
"I'm just staying disciplined and looking for pitches that I can hit hard," said Houghton, who leads Marengo with 32 RBIs.
"I'm just going up there with a positive attitude and swinging for the fences, hitting it hard."
Haley Minogue had a double, two runs and an RBI, and Mikayla Wzientek went 3 for 3 and drove in a run batting ninth for the Indians. Connell improved to 10-1 in the circle and was 2 for 3 with a double, three runs and two RBIs. She allowed four runs on five hits in five innings, striking out five and walking none.
Rachel Baker had a double for R-B, and Bannon drove in two. Klicker took the loss, allowing six runs (four earned) in two-plus innings.
"We'll have one inning where we're really hot, and we'll have a couple where we hit a wall," Rockets coach Vicki Klopf said. "Sometimes, it's just too late. We've got to get going a little bit sooner."
STAR OF THE GAME
Hannah Ritter, Marengo, jr., LF
Ritter hit two solo homers and collected her 11th multi-hit game of the season, going 3 for 3 with three runs scored and two RBIs.
4: Home runs by Marengo.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
The Indians improved to 6-0 in the Kishwaukee River Conference and have lost only one conference game since the start of the 2013-14 season, going 52-1 in the KRC and Big Northern Conference East Division.
Marengo 14, Richmond-Burton 4 (5 inn.)
Richmond-Burton 000 40 – 4 5 0
Marengo 124 25 – 14 14 1
WP: Connell (5IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 5K). LP: Klicker (2IP, 6H, 6R, 4ER, 1BB, 0K).
Top hitters: Richmond-Burton–Baker 1-2 (2B), Bannon 1-2 (2B, 2RBI). Marengo–Connell 2-3 (2B, 2RBI, 3R), Walsweer 2-3 (HR, 4RBI, 2R), Houghton 1-3 (HR, 2RBI), Ritter 3-3 (2HR, 2RBI, 3R), Minogue 1-2 (2B, RBI, 2R), Wzientek 3-3 (RBI).