The Highland High School and Mater Dei softball teams locked up in a good, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel, with both teams combining for a total of just eight hits before the Lady Bulldogs nipped the visiting Knights 2-1 on March 28 at Highland High School.
Highland had its last three games rained out — at Belleville Althoff (March 29), Gillespie (March 30) and Alton Marquette (April 3). The Marquette game has been rescheduled for 4:30 p.m. this Friday at HHS.
With the win over the Knights, the Bulldogs remain unbeaten at 5-0. Mater Dei currently stands at 4-5.
Highland junior Kirsten Plocher and Mater Dei senior Aften Richter, a Highland native, battled tooth and nail to put all zeros on the scoreboard through the first four innings.
But after Plocher retired the Knights in the top of the fifth, the Knights elected to change pitchers and replaced Richter with Hayley Palm to start the bottom of the fifth.
With some fortuitous help, the Bulldogs were able to break through for two runs in the fifth which proved to be the difference. Palm started off by hitting senior Aubrey Hacke. Senior Peyton Holzinger followed by smacking a single the opposite way to right field. Then junior Hannah Sullens laid down a bunt that resulted in an error, which allowed Hacke to come around to score the game’s first run. Plocher then helped herself by hitting a sacrifice fly to right to allow Holzinger to tag and score.
Mater Dei put the pressure on Plocher in the top of the sixth. After a fielder’s choice, Abby Braundmeier doubled to left to put two runners in scoring position before Palm hit a RBI single to cut Highland’s lead in half.
After Plocher induced another fielder’s choice for the second out, she walked Rylie Johnson to load the bases. Hacke came in to relieve Plocher and got Amber Jo Hallemann to fly out to junior right fielder Addison Rinderer in right field to end the threat and preserve the Bulldogs’ one-run lead.
After Palm retired Highland in order in the home half of the sixth, Hacke returned the favor, sitting Mater Dei down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh to record the game’s final four outs in succession and earn the save.
Plocher (3-0) picked up the win after holding the Knights to the one run on five scattered hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. She struck out four.
Palm was pinned with the loss after allowing two runs (one earned) on one hit and one hit batsman in two innings of relief work.
Backed by good defense while she was in the circle, Richter had shut Highland out on just two hits through four innings.