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West Aurora softball team tops Kaneland

West Aurorpitcher ChristinHunger delivers fifth inning Blackhawks’ 4-1 wMonday Kaneland.| Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

West Aurora pitcher Christina Hunger delivers in the fifth inning of the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win Monday at Kaneland.| Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 29, 2011 12:23AM

MAPLE PARK — Familiarity didn’t breed contempt, but it was cause for concern.

Coming into Monday’s 4-1 non-conference softball win over Kaneland, West Aurora pitcher Christina Hunger knew very well that Knights’ first baseman Andrea Potts was a good hitter. They’re summer teammates on the Northern Illinois Thunder, where Potts often catches Hunger.

“(Teammates) since we were 12,” said Hunger, who found herself in a bit of a jam with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Kaneland’s No. 2 hitter Allyson O’Herron, who had a single in three previous at-bats, stepped to the plate with a runner on third base and one run in.

Hunger didn’t have to look over to the Knights’ on-deck circle to know who was waiting there, hoping to step into the batters box as the potential tying run. It was the same Potts who already had a double and two singles off her good friend.

“(Potts) has always been a really good hitter, so we were nervous when she got up there. Thank goodness she didn’t get up there with the bases loaded,” said West Aurora catcher Jamie Avery, a former Thunder teammate for one summer who had staked Hunger to an early lead with a two-out, two-run home run to left-center in the top of the first.

Hunger avoided the confrontation by getting the last out on a fly ball to center fielder LaRi Mitchell. It capped a seven-hit, seven-strikeout, no-walk effort that allowed the West senior pitcher to even her record at 2-2. The Blackhawks are now 3-5.

“It was really fun because we’ve never gotten to play each other before,” Hunger said. “But I also knew it would be tough to get (Potts) out because she knows all my strategies and all my pitches. I tried going away on her with curve balls and then changeups. She just hit the changeup twice and actually hit the curve ball, too.

“When I saw her on deck, I knew I had to get the No. 2 hitter out.”

After Avery’s second homer of the season, Hunger and Kaneland starter and loser Alexis Villarreal (10 hits, 6 strikeouts, 2 walks) matched each other pitch for pitch until the visitors added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Twice the Knights’ junior right-hander worked out of bases-loaded jams as West stranded 10 runners.

Franny Evischi and Ally Wayzer joined Avery with two hits each for the Blackhawks. Avery could have had a third as she hit a liner to right that would have been a single but it stayed up long enough to keep a West runner close to the bag at first and allowed Kaneland right fielder Brittany Miller to throw to second for a force out.

McKinzie Mangers singled and Lanie Callaghan double to open the seventh for Kaneland (7-5) and Mangers scored on a fielder’s choice.

“It was a really nice comfort, pitching with a lead,” said Hunger. “I knew they were a tough team so it was nice to score off the bat.”

West coach Sara Nagy said she allowed Hunger to call her own game because she knew the Kaneland hitters “better than I do. I didn’t know how they were gonna come out because they all know each other from playing in the summer so I was really nervous and they all stepped up.”

Kaneland coach Brian Willis, meanwhile, is hoping his players get their batting strokes back. The Knights were blanked by Geneseo on Saturday and resume today with an important conference game at home against Sycamore.

“Everybody but Andrea (Potts) has been struggling and she can’t hit with the bases empty all the time,” he said. “Unless she hits seven solo home runs. We’re in a rut right now. We go up and down, pretty soon we’ll break out of it and, hopefully, put 12 on the board.

“We hit a few screamers that were caught (one by Mitchell in center and one by Dee Nelson in right). We get going and those will fall in and those rollers will get through the infield. It will all even out.”

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