Visiting Belleville West ended Highland High softball team’s season-opening winning streak by taking both ends of a double header on Saturday, 4-2 and 3-0.
The Maroons, who improved to 8-4 at press time, combined good pitching and a sure-handed defense with timely hitting.
Highland put the ball in play all day, striking out only three times in the double dip and making really good contact on numerous occasions.
But Belleville West committed just one error in the twin bill and also made several highlight-reel defensive plays.
“Belleville West played outstanding,” said Highland coach Brittne Zobrist. “They made some amazing plays on defense and came up with some timely hits. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap to a team. They just played better than us. We hit the ball hard, and they made the plays. We also only struck out three times all day, so we put the ball in play a lot. We had some balls go all the way to the fence. They just played perfect defense and got to them.”
Highland’s scheduled Mississippi Valley Conference opener at Mascoutah on Monday was postponed until Tuesday, after press time, because of heavy rainfall early in the day on Monday.
The Lady Bulldogs (7-2) were scheduled to host Civic Memorial on Wednesday and then host Triad this coming Monday, April 20.
Belleville West 3, Highland 0
In the nightcap, the Lady Bulldogs were no-hit by Maroon ace McKenzie Sisk.
Sisk was able to keep Highland’s batters off-balance just enough. The Lady Bulldogs could never center her pitches quite enough to find a hole in the defense, which was rock solid in backing Sisk’s performance in the circle.
Belleville West played an error-free game in the field, which included several really nice snags. Sisk herself fielded several comebackers and gave HHS nothing as she walked only one. She struck out three.
A big bright spot of the doubleheader for HHS was the pitching of freshman reliever Addison Rinderer. Belleville West could not get anything going so long as Rinderer was dealing.
The Maroons managed just one hit off the Highland freshman pitcher, who allowed no runs, walked none and struck out one during her 3 2/3 innings of work.
“She did very well,” Zobrist said of Rinderer. “We brought her in a tight spot, and she pitched her way out of it.”
Sophomore Jenna Gnaedinger (2-1) ended up on the wrong side of the pitching decision for the Lady Bulldogs. She was charged with the loss after lasting just 3 1/3 innings and allowing three runs, all earned. She struck out one and walked none.
Belleville West led wire to wire after taking the lead in the top of the first inning on Kiri Evans’ sacrfice fly to score Alliyah St. John, who led off with a single and went to third on a single from Emily Fulton.
Belleville West tacked on two additional runs in the third. Olivia Young’s double got things going, bringing home Fulton. That was followed up by Hannah Biermann’s single, to score Young.
Belleville West 4, Highland 2
The Lady Bulldogs dug out of a 2-0 hole after pushing across one run in each of the fourth and fifth innings. However, the Marooons went on top for good with a two-run top of the sixth and HHS was unable to muster another comeback.
For Belleville West, Evans rapped out a game-high three hits and scored twice, while Morgan Hinkle added two hits and knocked in a game-best three runs.
Dbethany Dain recorded the win for the Maroons. She allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings. Dain struck out none and walked one.
Sophomore left-hander Aubrey Hacke (3-1) took the loss for the Lady Bulldogs. She surrendered four runs (three earned) on seven hits while walkning none adn striking out two in 5 1/3 innings.
Belleville West pushed two runs across in the fourth inning to start the scoring. Evans led off with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice, moved over to third on a single from Biermann, and scored on Sidnie Spargur’s RBI ground out. Biermann scored the second run on a wild pitch.
Highland cut the deficit in half with a single tally in the home half of the fourth. With one out, sophomore Peyton Holzinger reached on an error, moved into scoring position on junior Lauren Wright’s single to left and scored on sophomore Sierra Huelsmann’s single to center.
HHS pulled even with another single tally in the fifth. Sophomore Reily Kassay reached on an error to lead off, advanced to second on sophomore Jillian Garbett‘s ground out, stole third and then scored on senior Mallory Rutz’s sacrifice fly.
But Belleville West answered the challenge to score the decisive two runs in the top half of the sixth on Hinkle’s single to center to plate Evans (single) and Daisha Price’s single to right to score Spargur (single).