The Highland High School softball team hammered out 17 hits en route to mauling the host Civic Memorial Eagles 12-2 in six innings Tuesday, May 2 at Bethalto Sports Complex.
Five Lady Bulldogs produced multiple-hit games. Junior left fielder Kourtney Zobrist, senior second baseman Peyton Holzinger, senior first baseman Hannah Miener, sophomore shortstop Lily Garbett and senior pitcher Aubrey Hacke all collected multiple hits.
The Lady Bulldogs (18-0 overall, 6-0 Mississippi Valley Conference) have outscored their opponents this season 152-31.
Zobrist and Holzinger were both perfect at the dish. Zobrist went 4-for-4 to raise her batting average to .386 and Holzinger was 3-for-3 to hike her average to .426, which is second only to Miener’s .469.
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The win had a some extra special emotional meaning as it was the first time coach Greg Exton was cleared to coach third base after recovering from having a cancerous tumor removed from his brain.
“Tonight was the first game Coach Greg Exton coached third base tonight, so it’s was amazing for us to that win for him coaching third,” Zobrist said.
Miener, Garbett (.419) and Hacke (.392) each supplied two hits apiece.
Zobrist scored a game-high three runs while junior right fielder Addison Rinderer (20 RBIs), Miener (19 RBIs), junior catcher Lauren Baer (17 RBIs), Holzinger (13 RBIs), Garbett (12 RBIs) each drove in two runs to show the way in run production. Miener and Garbett each slugged a home run and share the team lead with four roundtrippers apiace while Hacke also belted her team-best fourth triple.
After hurling two no-hitters in a row, Hacke had her streaks of not allowing a hit (in the first inning) and a run both come to an end, but she was still razor sharp.
Hacke, 10-0 with a 1.248 ERA, worked all six innings and surrendered just one earned run (two overall) on five hits and one walk while punching out 10.
Hacke’s streak of not allowing a run was snapped in the Eagles’ two-run fourth inning but not before she went 24 full frames without allowing a single runner to cross home plate. Her 17-inning stretch without permitting a hit also came to an end.
For Civic Memorial (7-12, 0-7) Susan Buchanan went 2-for-3 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored.
“Tonight we all just hit the ball,” Zobrist said. “There isn’t a girl in our lineup that can’t hit. We work hard in practice to keep this undefeated season going. Our team has goals for this season and one of our goals is to win conference. With the way we’re playing, I believe we can do it. Lately, I’ve been noticing improvement in my hitting in practice. I hit every weekend and I felt that lately I haven’t been hitting as good as I know I can. Tonight I felt more confident and felt like my usual self. We also spend a lot of time hitting in practice so I believe that helps with everyone’s hitting. I’ve been seeing the ball better because of the amount of hitting we do at practice and I’ve seen improvement these past couple of days. I’m very happy to be a part of this team.”
As they have in many games this season, Highland took command early with a three-run top of the first inning. With two outs, junior catcher Lauren Baer hit a RBI single to score Zobrist (single) and Holzinger smacked a two-run single to plate Miener (single) and sophomore Lexy Gilliam, who was courtesy running for Hacke (walk).
The Bulldogs also put up crooked-number innings in each of the fourth and sixth frames with five and four runs, respectively.
In the fourth, Highland strung six hits and one error together to push across a handful of runs and stretch the lead to 8-0.
Holzinger led off with a single to center field, moved over to second on a passed ball, then scored when junior center fielder Hannah Sullens reached on an error.
After senior third baseman Reily Kassay singled, Rinderer drove in two with a bunt single before Zobrist knocked in Rinderer with a single to center. Garbett capped off the inning with a single to left to chase Zobrist home.
In the bottom half, CM got its two runs on three hits and two Highland errors to cut the deficit to 8-2.
But the Bulldogs put an exclamation point on another decisive win in the sixth. Zobrist singled with one out and Miener followed by walloping a two-run homer to center. Six pitches later on a 2-2 count, Garbett made it back-to-back jacks with a solo blast to left to widen the gap to 11-2.
Hacke followed by pulling a triple to right. Gilliam came in to run for Hacke and scored on Baer’s ensuing run-scoring ground out to give Highland its 10-run lead.
Hacke retired the Eagles in order, the final two via strikeout, in the home half of the sixth to end the game an inning early.