The Highland softball Lady Bulldogs rebounded from an early 2-0 deficit to topple perennial Mississippi Valley Conference power Triad 5-2 on the Knights’ home field on Wednesday of last week.
The next day on Thursday, Highland served as rude hosts after roughing up visiting Metro-East Lutheran 11-1 in six innings.
The two wins extended the Lady Bulldogs’ winning streak to six games and lifted their overall record to 17-4, while the victory over Triad improved Highland’s MVC ledger to 6-2.
Highland’s scheduled game on Monday against visiting Jerseyville was postponed a day until Tuesday.
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Highland 5, Triad 2
The Lady Bulldogs avenged a 7-2 loss to the Knights on April 20 and scored the program’s first win over their chief rivals in four years.
But to earn the victory, Highland first had to overcome an early two-run deficit right out of the gate after Triad’s third batter, Jordyn Alford, blasted a two-run home run over the fence in center field off HHS freshman Kirsten Plocher to also drive in Abby Burroughs, who led off with a walk.
After giving up the two-run blast to Alford, Plocher showed amazing poise beyond her as she quickly regrouped and shut out the Knights the rest of the way while going the distance. She surrendered just four hits and walked none while striking out three over the final six innings to bump her unblemished season record to 6-0.
“Giving up the two-run homer didn’t really sit well with me but I tried to focus on what I could control and move on as soon as the play was over,” Plocher said. “We all tried putting that inning in the past and refocus. We all knew we could hit and I knew my defense could make the plays. We had amazing plays and timely hitting which can only go out to the other girls. It was a team win overall.”
Highland knotted the game up at 2-2 in the third as sophomore Hannah Miener lined a two-run single the opposite way to right field to chase home both senior Mallory Rutz (walk) and sophomore Aubrey Hacke (walk).
The Lady Bulldogs grabbed their first and last lead with a single tally in the sixth. Miener reached on an error to lead it off. Freshman Addison Rinderer courtesy ran for Miener and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from junior Lauren Wright, who also went 2-for-3 in the game.
After Plocher and sophomore Sierra Huelsmann both walked to load the bases, sophomore Megan Frey had the at-bat of the game. She fouled off numerous pitches before hitting into a fielder’s choice to drive in Rinderer with the ahead run.
Highland would not relinquish the lead.
The Lady Bulldogs tacked on two key insurance runs in the seventh on back-to-back one-out doubles by Wright and Plocher to cap off the scoring in the game.
Hacke led off by reaching on an error. After the first out, Miener reached on a fielder’s choice which saw Hacke forced out at second base. Wright socked a double to center to plate Miener. Then Plocher punched a double of her own, this one to left, to trade places with Wright and give HHS a more comfortable three-run edge.
Alford was pinned with the loss for Triad after giving up five runs (two earned) on six hits and five walks. She struck out two.
“Today we played probably the best game we have all year,” said Highland coach Brittne Zobrist. “We hit the ball when we needed to with runners on. Megan (Frey) had the at bat of the game in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded. She fouled off seven or eight good pitches before putting it in play to score Rinderer from third. KP (Plocher) came back and battled back after giving up the homer in the first inning. Alford is a great hitter and I tried to sneak one by her. Wasn’t fooling her. The outfield made some great plays today. Sierra (Huelsmann) threw a girl out at first. And Aubrey (Hacke) made a diving catch to end the game. Our infield did their job too. Reily (Kassay) made some great plays at third and Hannah (Miener) had some really nice stretch plays. It was a total team effort today. I’m so proud of these girls and what they brought to the field today.”
HHS 11, Metro-East Lutheran 1 (6 innings)
The Lady Bulldogs pounded out 16 hits, featuring three triples and two doubles, and scored at least one run in five of their six innings.
Highland had six players collect multiple-hit games, led by Miener’s perfect 3-for-3 day at the dish. Miener also doubled once, scored once and knocked in one.
Collecting two hits apiece were Huelsman, sophomore Peyton Holzinger, Wright, sophomore Jillian Garbett and Frey.
Huelsmann also added a double, three RBIs and two runs scored. Wright went a perfect 2-for-2 with a triple, three runs driven in and two runs scored, while Holzinger tripled, knocked in a pair and scored a pair and Garbett chipped in two RBIs.
Adding one hit each to round out the offense were Rutz (triple, one run), sophomore Reily Kassay (one RBI, one run) and freshman Lauren Baer (one run).
In the circle, Rinderer a freshman left-hander, chalked up her first career varsity victory. Rinderer (1-0) worked all six innings, punching out seven while yielding only one earned run, six scattered hits and two bases on balls.
“Rinderer pitched well today,” Zobrist said. “She worked both sides of the plate and really had a solid outing. We came out swinging and tagged them for 16 hits. The whole lineup contributed. We had solid defense again. Sierra threw another girl out at home. She really is a weapon out there in right field. It was another good team win.”
Cierra Frields of Metro-East Lutheran was charged with the loss. She allowed 11 runs (nine earned) on 16 hits in 5 1/3 innings, walked none and struck out three.
The Lady Bulldogs wasted no time getting on the scoreboard with a two-run home half of the second. Rutz led off with a ringing triple to left and Wright sacrificed her home. After three consecutive singles from Holzinger, Miener and Frey filled the bases, Huelsman hit a fielder’s choice ground ball to third base to score Holzinger and mke it 2-0.
After Metro got its lone run in the top of the second on an RBI single by Emma Eberhardt, Highland countered with a three-run third. Wright got it started with a leadoff triple to right and scored on Holzinger’s ground out.
Miener got the rally going again with a double to right. Two batters later, she scored on Huelsmann’s two-out single to center to extend the lead to 4-1. After Garbett singled to center, Kassay singled to center to drive home Huelsmann for the fifth run.
HHS increased its lead to 7-1 with two runs in the fourth. Wright got it started with a one-out single to left. Holzinger followd with a triple to center to score Wright and Miener brought home Holzinger with a single to left.
The Lady Bulldogs tacked on an additional run in the bottom of the fifth. Kassay led off by reaching base on an error and then stole three bases in a row to swell the lead to 8-1.
Highland scored three times in the sixth to bring the game to an end an inning early due to the 10-run mercy rule. The runs scored on an RBI double from Huelsmann and a two-run single by Garbett.