The Highland softball Lady Bulldogs hammered host Civic Memorial 13-5 on Monday at the Bethalto Sports Complex to run its winning streak to four games.
Highland’s hot stretch started by easily slipping past the host East Alton-Wood River Oilers 14-1 in five innings on Tuesday of last week.
The next day, the Lady Bulldogs nipped the visiting Mascoutah Indians 5-4 before mauling the visiting Wesclin Warriors 12-0 in 4 1/2 frames on Friday.
The four wins catapulted Highland’s overall record to an impressive 15-4 while the two wins over Mascoutah and CM hoisted the Lady Bulldog’s Mississippi Valley Conference mark to 5-2 prior to Wednesday’s league game at Triad.
HHS 13, Civic Memorial 5
The Lady Bulldogs banged out 17 hits, highlighted by two doubles and a home run and scored in five of seven innings, including putting up a crooked a number in each of the third (five runs), fifth (three) and seventh (three) innings.
Highland had five players gain multiple hits, led by Sierra Huelsmann going a perfect 4-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Chipping in three hits apiece were Mallory Rutz (two RBIs) and Jillian Garbett.
Contributing two hits each were Hannah Miener and Gabi Berolatti.
Miener walloped a two-run home run in Highland’s five-run third. It was a bomb that sailed over the fence in left field.
“We were hitting very well tonight as a team. This was a well-played game and our defense backed up our hitting,” said Miener, who leads the team in all of the following statistics: batting average (.463), on-base percentage (.547), hits (25), RBIs (21) and runs (19).
Berolatti also doubled in the game and finished with three runs knocked in and two runs scored.
“We hit the ball well today,” said Highland first-year head coach Brittne Zobrist. “All through the lineup we got production. Hannah hit a home run that was a no-doubter over the fence. We had some stellar plays from our defense today. Mal (Rutz) had a few diving stops at short. Megan (Frey) and Lauren (Wright) both had diving catches in the outfield. It was a nice win today for us.”
Even though starter Jenna Gnaedinger surrendered five runs (three earned) on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings, she still recorded the victory to improve to 5-1. She struck out one and walked none.
The Eagles could not get anything going as long as left-hander Aubrey Hacke was in the circle. Hacke relieved Gnaedinger in the fourth after the right-hander gave up a two-run homer to allow CM to close within 7-5.
The Eagles mustered just three hits off of Hacke, who allowed no runs, walked none and struck out two during her 3 2/3 innings of work to earn her second save in three games.
CM’s Ryan Allison took the loss after suffering all of the damage of 13 runs (12 earned) on 17 hits and five walks in seven innings.
The Lady Bulldogs scratched across a single run in each of the first two frames.
In the first, Rutz walked, stole second and went to third on an error on the shortstop on the steal, and then tagged and scored on Plocher’s sacrifice fly.
After Wood River tied it at 1-1 in the bottom half of the first, Rutz’s RBI single reclaimed the lead for Highland for good at 2-1.
HHS put up a five-spot in the third to go on top by a convincing 7-1 margin. After Miener’s two-run blast, Highland’s other three runs came home on an RBI single by Huelsmann, a run-scoring double from Berolatti and an RBI single by Rutz.
The Lady Bulldogs’ three runs in the fifth came on a two-run single from Berolatti, who later scored on an error to push HHS’ lead to 10-5.
Highland’s trio of runs in the seventh came on a wild pitch to score Peyton Holzinger (single), an RBI single from Frey and a sacrifice fly by Huelsmann.
HHS 12, Wesclin 0
Coach Zobrist was a bit nervous about how her team would hit, because she only had eight players show up for practice the day before because a bunch of them were down at Busch Stadium watching the baseball Bulldogs beat Waterloo 14-7 after the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies.
But her concern turned out to be unfounded as the Lady Bulldogs took great at-bats to pound out 10 hits and draw four bases on balls.
Hacke (5-3) allowed no opposing player to cross home plate, yielding just two hits and two hits while ringing up six strikeouts.
Ally Isenhower took the loss for Wesclin. She could not fool the HHS hitters, giving up eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings after permitting six hits and three walks while striking out none.
“Aubrey pitched great, and I am actually happy with the way we hit today,” Zobrist said. “I was a little nervous at how we would hit today, but they came out and hit. A good trend for us had been that our strikeouts have been going down lately for us. We took a lot of good at-bats today. We got deep in counts and made sure we hit our pitch today. That was the key for us today against a pitcher that was not as speedy as we’re used to. It’s about seeing the ball, waiting on it and hitting your pitch.
“It’s nice to get out of here early so the girls can finish doing what they need to do to get ready for prom tomorrow (Saturday).”
Highland jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first and then put the game away by piling on six runs in the third and four more in the fourth.
Collecting two hits apiece for HHS were Holzinger and Miener. Holzinger clubbed two doubles and drove in five runs. Miener added one double, scored twice and knocked in one run while Hacke and Huelsmann each had one hit and two RBIs apiece.
In the first, Miener hit an RBI double to left and Huelsmann coaxed a two-out walk with the bases loaded.
Highland heaped on six runs in the third on three hits, two walks and two RBI hit batsmen (Huelsmann and Rutz) and a run-scoring fielder’s choice from Hacke.
A big momentum boost came from Wright stealing home plate to make it 4-0.
“I told Lauren (Wright) to get a nice, big lead and then on the next pitch, I saw the catcher cock back and I said, ‘Go,’” Zobrist said. “I knew she wasn’t paying attention. So yeah, I told her to go. She never looked, and Lauren is fast.”
Wright added, “Today Aubrey threw a great game. Our defense was solid, and we hit well as a team ,so we had more chances to steal bases. Stealing home doesn’t happen very often. It was exciting to be able to score in that fashion.”
Putting an exclamation point on the huge third inning that saw a half dozen runners cross home plate was Holzinger lashing a two-run double to left.
HHS pushed across four more runs in the bottom of the fourth on a bases-loaded walk from Hacke and a three-run double by Holzinger.
HHS 5, Mascoutah 4
The Lady Bulldogs scored all five of their runs in the second and it turned out to be just enough as they held on for a one-run win.
In the second, Miener and Wright led off with successive singles. Miener scored on an error that allowed Reily Kassay to reach safely, and Wright came home on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
Kassay scored on Frey’s fielder’s choice to nudge HHS’ lead to 3-0. Later on, Rutz reached on an error, and then, after Holzinger drove in a run with a single, Rutz scored with the help of another error.
The Indians clawed back into the game after touching Plocher for three runs in the fifth. That would be all Plocher would allow in six innings of service, as she came out and quickly retired Mascoutah in order in the sixth, finishing her outing with a strikeout.
“I can spot my fastball pretty well, and my changeup has always been the thing that I can really count on, and my drop ball was there,” said Plocher, who hiked her record to 5-0. “I knew that if I threw strikes, my defense would be behind me, so I wasn’t that worried. I was really happy with (my last inning), because I was really motivating myself in the dugout before that inning to help make that happen.”
Zobrist brought in Hacke to close the game, because she said she wanted to give Mascoutah a little different look, and Hacke threw a one-hitter in a 1-0 win over the Indians on April 14.
But things got a little hairy. Hacke walked the leadoff hitter, who came around to score on an ensuing error. The Indians actually had the tying and go-ahead runs on base before Hacke and her defense wriggled out of the jam to preserve the conference win for the team, as well as retain the win for Plocher and earn the save for Hacke
“We battled out of it, it took the defense,” Zobrist said. “I had faith in (Hacke) to come back. I knew our defense would step up. Aubrey has a little more speed. She is more of our power pitcher, and I figured she would just blow it right by them. And she finished strong. And we had a couple of defensive plays, with Hannah getting that girl at third and Peyton snagging that line drive. Our defense stepped up.”
HHS 14, East Alton-Wood River 1
The Lady Bulldogs jumped all over Wood River freshman starter Morgan Moxey for four runs in the first frame and chased her from the game after completing just 3 2/3 innings and allowing 11 runs (all earned) on 11 hits and four walks.
For the game, Highland powered up for 13 hits, highlighted by two home runs and one triple.
Holzinger, Miener, Kassay, Frey and freshman Lauren Baer all had perfect days at the dish.
Kassay and Baer both slugged a three-run home run. Kassay, who went 2-for-2, finished with a game-high five runs batted in, while Baer’s homer came in her first ever varsity at-bat.
Holzinger and Miener both went 3-for-3, with Holzinger also belting a triple, scoring three runs and knocking in two, and Miener also scoring twice and driving home one run.
Frey, joined Kassay in going 2-for-2, scored two runs.
In addition, Gnaedinger earned the win to improve to 4-1 after giving up just one unearned run, two hits and one walk in her five innings of work. She struck out one.
The game was decided quickly as HHS exerted its will early with a four-run rally, all coming with two outs.
Holzinger ignited the spurt with a two-out triple to center field. Miener followed by chasing her home with an RBI single to center to make it 1-0 Highland. After a walk to Wright, Kassay crushed her three-run homer to center and the lead quickly ballooned to 4-0.
Highland tacked on a single run in the third. Holzinger and Miener led off with back-to-back singles, and then after the first out, Kassay hit a sacrifice fly to allow Holzinger to tag and score the fifth run.
The Lady Bulldog blew the game wide open with a six-run fourth. Highland’s runs scored on a two-run single to center from Holzinger, a bases-loaded walk by Wright, an RBI single to left from Kassay, a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Miener and a wild pitch that scored Wright.
After Wood River scored its one run with the help of an error, Baer made her first varsity at-bat one to remember as she ripped a three-run homer to right field to cap off the game’s scoring.
“We came out ready to hit,” Zobrist said. “The girls were hungry for runs early. Our sticks are starting to come alive earlier in the game. We had two home runs — one by Kassay and another by Lauren Baer in her first varsity at bat — and a triple by Peyton Holzinger. We also had a few other really well-hit balls throughout the lineup. Jenna pitched well, keeping the hitters off-balance. She only gave up two hits tonight, which was a nice personal victory for her. We played solid defense behind her and made some nice plays.
“Hannah (Miener) had a nice play in foul territory, and Megan (Frey) had a nice play on a ball hit short in left. Once again, it was an all-out team victory, and the girls were happy to get back on track after the Waterloo game.”