Big hits, kicks and jumps
The Highland softball team battled Mississippi Valley Conference rival Triad for eight-plus innings before a walk and a controversial winning run that scored off of a bunt left the Bulldogs on the short end of a 2-1, nine-inning loss Wednesday at Triad High School.
Triad slugger Isabelle Lehan drew a one out walk in the bottom of the ninth and freshman courtesy runner Kelsey Neace came home to score from second base on Sidney Wildhaber’s bunt.
Wildhaber’s bunt popped out of the grasp HHS catcher Jordan Fields after it went up about a foot in the air and Fields, from her knees, fired the ball to first but it took off into right field, allowing Neace to run and slide into third base.
As Neace slid into third and got up, locating the ball in right field, Triad coach Kris Kleeman at third base was near Neace and appeared to give her a push around the bag. Neace, who stumbled through third, then raced home ahead of Highland pitcher Sam Miener’s tag to score the game-winning run.
That crazy final play sequence left Highland coach Glen Nicholls beside himself.
“It was a crazy game and a well-played game by both teams and both teams were playing good softball,” Nichols said. “Our girls had it on video that she (Kleeman) gave her a push and she (Neace) stumbled and, during her fall, maintained her balance and then came home. She definitely pushed her.
“That’s the sad thing about it. It’s kind of a shame it ended the way it did.”
Miener and Triad ace Liz Young battled pitch for pitch through the whole contest. Miener struck out seven and walked five. Young struck out six and walked just three in her nine innings to get the win.
Triad grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI-double by senior Payton Bode.
HHS got that run back in the top of the seventh as Lexi Gilliam bunted her way on, and Fields doubled her home.
It was a tough finish for the Lady Bulldogs.
“The umpires told me ‘there’s only two of out here coach’ and the base umpire told me his job was to watch the play at first and I said ‘well the ball went home and somebody had to be watching third base.’ And my question was, ‘Who watching third base?’ It was kind of sad to the game like that,” Nicholls said.
Mater Dei 3, Highland 2 (14 innings)
On Tuesday, the Lady Bulldogs dropped a 14-inning thriller at Mater Dei 3-2.
Highland trailed 2-1 after four innings, but pushed across a run in the top of the fifth to tie it 2-2.
Emily Allsman and Hayley Palm locked into a pitchers duel after that, shutting down both offenses into the 11th inning.
Allsman was superb, going 13 innings and giving up just two earned runs, striking out 11 and walking two.
Reagan Krask led the Lady Bulldogs offense with a 3-for-6 day at the plate. Highland is 11-9 overall, 6-3 in the MVC.