The Highland High softball team was successful its first two Mississippi Valley Conference rivals before stumbling in its third time out.
After traveling to Mascoutah and nipping the Indians 1-0 on April 13, and then declawing the visiting Civic Memorial Eagles 13-0 in 4 1/2 innings two days later, the Lady Bulldogs fell to visiting Triad 7-2 on Monday.
Highland’s overall record stood at 9-3 prior to traveling to Roxana on Tuesday and Jerseyville on Wednesday.
HHS’ MVC mark moved to 2-1 prior to the Jerseyville game.
Triad 7, Highland 2
HHS sophomore Aubrey Hacke’s solid day at the dish was not enough to overcome the Knights’ success off her while she was in the circle.
Triad outhit the Lady Bulldogs 11-6 for the game.
Hacke went 2-for-3 with a triple. She also drove in one run and scored one run.
But Triad pinned the loss on Hacke (4-2) after scoring five runs (three earned) on eight hits off her in five innings. Hacke did strike out seven and walked none.
Highland freshman Kirsten Plocher relieved Hacke in the sixth and gave up two earned runs on three hits in two innings.
For the Knights, Abby Burroughs went 3-for-4, while Alleigh Kruse, Jordyn Alford and Hannah Cotten each rapped out two hits each for Triad.
Alford was also the winning pitcher. She worked all seven innings and allowed just two unearned runs on six hits and three walks. Alford fanned six.
The Knights didn’t relinquish the lead after pushing across four runs in the top of the third inning on four hits and two errors.
Three successive singles to lead off the frame from Cotten, Hannah Johnson and Burroughs got the scoring going, with Burroughs’ RBI single to left field knocking in Cotten.
Two batters later, Alford lined a two-run single to center, and then scored on an error to help bury the Lady Bulldogs in a 4-0 hole.
Triad tacked on an insurance run in the fifth. Kruse and Alford led off with consecutive singles, and Beth Mersinger followed with a run-scoring single to right to drive in Kruse and make it 5-0.
Two runs in the bottom of the fifth helped HHS close its deficit to 5-2. Hacke yanked a two-out RBI triple to right to get Highland on the board, and sophomore Hannah Miener cracked an RBI single to center to drive Hacke home.
Triad got the two runs right back off Plocher on Kruse’s two-run single to right to score Cotten (single) and Burroughs (single).
In addition to Hacke’s two hits and Miener’s one hit, senior Mallory Rutz, junior Lauren Wright and sophomore Peyton Holzinger each added one hit for Highland.
Highland 13, Civic Memorial 0 (4 1/2 innings)
After struggling to hit the ball and score runs in their previous three games, the Lady Bulldogs broke out of their hitting slump in a big way, banging out 11 hits (three doubles), walking three times and taking advantage of three Eagle errors to pile on a gluttony of offense.
Highland scored all of its runs in the first three innings, sandwiching a pair of three-run innings around a huge seven-run eruption in the second.
“The ladies came out ready to play today. They really wanted to go to 2-0 in the conference,” Zobrist said. “Everybody has the capability to hit and today they showed that. We hit up and down the lineup. We got an early lead and that really helps our pitchers because they can just go ou there and throw strikes. The defense played great and made all of the plays.”
Rutz showed the way offensively, going 3-for-4 at the dish.
Wright, Holzinger and sophomore Sierra Huelsmann each supplied two hits apiece.
Wright crunched two doubles and Holzinger clubbed one double. The duo each knocked in three runs.
“It felt great to hit the ball hard and help my team,” Wright said. “We are really starting to come together as a unit. Our pitchers are really throwing great games and the defense has been solid. Offensively, our bats are coming alive and I can’t wait to see how it turns out while we enter the heart of our season.”
Miener hit a two-run single, walked once, drove in a game-high four runners, and joined Rutz in scoring three times.
In addition, Rutz and Huelsmann each added one RBI, while Hacke had one hit and joined courtesy runner Brianna Wernle with two runs scored.
It was also a nice return to the circle for freshman pitcher Plocher, who kept CM off the scoreboard all five innings. She yielded just four hits while whiffing seven.
In the Lady Bulldogs’ three-run first, Rutz started the fally with a leadoff single and then HHS took advantage of two CM errors to score two runs before Wright capped the spurt with a ringing double to center.
Highland scored seven times in the second to already have enough on the scoreboard to make it a short-game at 10-0. The runs were scored on an RBI single by Rutz, a wild pitch, a bases-clearing, three-run double from Holzinger, an RBI double by Wright and a run-scoring single from Huelsmann.
The Lady Bulldogs’ three runs in the third came home on Miener’s two-run single to center and Wright’s RBI ground out.
Highland 1, Mascoutah 0
Hacke twirled a three-hitter and punched out eight to spark the Lady Bulldogs to tight triumph over host Mascoutah. Hacke also scored the game’s only run in the sixth inning.
Hacke, who walked just two, won the duel against Indians hurler Megan Rudolphi, who was not nearly as overpowering but almost as effective. Rudolphi, a Rend Lake College recruit, permitted just the one run while striking out two.
“I felt really comfortable,” Hacke said. “I was throwing all of my pitches for strikes.”
Hacke was also supported by a strong defense, which made several outstanding plays.
First baseman Hannah Meiner and second baseman Peyton Holzinger made diving catches of scorching line drives late in the game.
HHS’ defense also gunned down a Mascoutah runner at home plate in the second inning to keep the Indians off the scoreboard and end the inning. Hannah Brock hit a single to right field and Huelsmann fielded it and came and fired a strike to home plate to Garbett, who tagged out Katie Jokisch.
“We played excellent defense today and Aub (Hacke) was really working the plate today,” Zobrist said. “She was loose and threw gas. She had a lot of movement. She was hitting her spots and pitched a really nice game. We hit the ball hard again today but Mascoutah made some good plays. We knew we would break through eventually. One was all we needed. The girls were excited to start conference play out with a W.”
The Lady Bulldogs didn’t have a plethora of chances to score, but they made the most out of their best shot in the sixth.
With one out, Rutz hit a swinging bunt and narrowly beat out the throw to first base. After Hacke hit into a fielder’s choice which resulted in Rutz being forced out at second base, Hacke quickly made up for causing the second out, stealing second base to put herself into into scoring position. Plocher promptly delivered, clobbering a pitch off the 200-foot sign down the third-base line to bring Hacke around to score the game’s lone tally.