Big hits, kicks and jumps
On Wednesday in Jerseyville, Highland’s softball team pretty much did everything right for seven innings — except find a way to score a run and close the deal.
Jerseyville’s Ryleigh Jones dinked a Texas-League fly down the right field line to score Chelsea Maag and lift the Panthers to a 1-0 walk-off seventh inning win against Highland in an IHSA Class 3A regional semifinal at Jerseyville High School.
This was the third time the Lady Bulldogs and Panthers locked horns, and Highland coach Glen Nicholls knew his team faced a stern challenge.
“They are a really good team and we were fortunate to beat them the first two times and they say it’s hard to beat a good team three times and that (the game) proves it right there,” Nicholls said.
Highland pitcher Sam Minor and Jerseyville hurler Claire Anderson were locked in early, as both pitchers fired shutout ball for six-plus innings.
HHS managed just four hits off Anderson, but they had chances to score early.
“We had our chances (to score),” Nicholls said.
The Lady Bulldogs’ best scoring chance was in the top of the fifth inning. Highland loaded the bases with less than two out, but Anderson averted any damage.
Highland came up empty in the sixth and seventh and then Jerseyville capitalized in the bottom of the seventh.
With runners at first and third and two out, Jones dropped a softly hit flair down the right field line that fell just fair, scoring Maag.
“She (Jones) just got one off the end of the bat down and it just floated down the line and it hit the chalk and it was just right dead on the line,” Nicholls said. “It was the one run they got.”
Minor was excellent, striking out seven and walking just one.
“Sam pitched a really, really good ballgame,” Nicholls said. “She kept us in the game. It just came down to a Texas Leaguer with two outs that plated their run.”
Highland finished 12-12.