The Highland High School softball team split a pair of non-conference games against teams from the Southwest Conference.
First, on Wednesday, March 21 at HHS, the Lady Bulldogs hosted Belleville East and came within an eyelash of overcoming a four-run hole before being edged by the Lancers 6-5.
Then on Thursday, Highland traveled to Granite City and routed the Warriors 11-1.
The Bulldogs (2-1), which have not committed an error yet this season, are scheduled to play three games in as many days, should the weather hold out. It was to begin with a road trip to Mater Dei on Tuesday, March 27. Highland is then scheduled to host two games against two more non-conference foes with Althoff on Wednesday, March 28 and Gillespie on Thursday, March 29.
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Highland 11, Granite City 1 (6 innings)
The Warriors got on the board first with their only tally of the game in the first inning, but it was all Bulldogs after that.
Highland, which banged out 11 hits, piled on four runs in each of the second and fourth frames and then closed out the lopsided win with a pair of tallies in the fifth and a single run in the sixth to end the game an inning early due to Illinois' 10-run mercy rule.
Freshman Delaina Sigman made her first high school start a memorable one. After hitting the leadoff hitter and surrendering a run on no hits in the first inning, Sigman (1-0) blanked Granite on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts the rest of the way.
Senior left fielder Lauren Baer, who moved from her normal position behind the plate, senior first baseman Addison Rinderer and freshman third baseman Sydney Pakerson all contributed two hits apiece.
Baer, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, also joined Rinderer, senior second baseman Kourtney Zobrist and senior Breann Wernle to show the way with a game-best two RBIs apiece.
Baer, who led Highland with eight home runs a year ago, slugged a leadoff inside-the-park homer to left field in the second inning to tie the game and help ignite the Bulldogs' offense. It was Highland's first round-tripper of the season.
Parkerson followed Baer's homer with a triple to left and then scored on an error to put Highland ahead to stay. Rinderer capped off the four-run second inning with a single to center and the Bulldogs had a three-run lead.
Highland erupted for another four-run frame in the fourth. Rinderer smacked a run-scoring single, Zobrist tattooed a two-run triple and later scored on a RBI double by Baer to bury the Warriors in an 8-1 hole.
In the Bulldogs' two-run fifth, Wernle launched a two-run inside-the-park to left to also score senior center fielder Hannah Sullens (single) to make it a 10-1 blowout.
Highland got its 11th run in the sixth when sophomore Taylor Flemming socked a double to right and later scored on a passed ball.
"Today I got to play left field, which was great, because I love the outfield and Sidney (Harnetiaux) is amazing behind the plate," Baer said. "Today we all just wanted to put the game from yesterday behind us and get some quality at-bats and play solid defense. I can definitely say we accomplished that. Hitting my first home run of the season felt great, especially since I didn’t hit well yesterday. I was seeing the ball a lot better today and felt more relaxed. Breann Wernle also hit a home run today, and we were all very excited for her. Her hit would’ve been over any fence we will play at this year. We are looking forward to improving at our next few practices and preparing to take on Mater Dei."
Belleville East 6, Highland 5
The Bulldogs trailed 6-2 entering the their final at-bat in the home half of the seventh inning, the they made it close. Highland pushed across three runs and had the tying run at third base and the winning run at second. But that's where it ended, and Highland was forced to taste defeat for the first time this season.
With the bases loaded and one out, Rinderer, who led the Bulldogs with two hits, cracked a two-run single the opposite way to left. Zobrist followed by slicing a run-scoring single the opposite way to right to pull the Bulldogs within a run.
After Baer struck out looking and junior shortstop Lily Garbett was intentionally walked, Belleville East ace Kristina Bettis induced Harnetiaux into a comebacker to the circle for the final out.
Bettis earned the win after going the distance and allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits and four walks with six strikeouts.
Rinderer (1-1) was charged with the loss after surrendering five earned runs on nine hits and one base on balls with three punchouts in five innings of work.
Freshman Sam Miener relieved Rinderer and surrendered one run one hit and one walk and one strikeout in two frames.
Highland scored first with a run in the bottom of the first when Rinderer doubled to left and Zobrist chased her home with a single to right.
The Lancers put up a three-spot in the third to take the lead for good and added two runs in the fifth to go on top 5-1 before the Bulldogs got one back in the sixth on a RBI double by Garbett to plate Zobrist (leadoff walk).
Belleville East got its four-run advantage back after countering with a key-insurance run in the top of the seventh that would help the Lancers have just enough to stave off the Bulldogs' last-inning comeback bid.
Belleville East's Jasmine Poore topped all hitters after going 3-for-4 with a double and two runs batted in. Also for the Lancers, Alyssa Krausz contributed a double, two RBIs and a run scored, Alexandra Boze added two hits, one RBI and one run, and Jackie Belzer had a double, one RBI and two runs.