Considering it had been a full two weeks since the Highland High softball team's last game — and all 14 days had been spent inside —coach Greg Exton was just happy his team could get outside Thursday, let alone host a game.
"Everything has been indoors, so we're so happy to come outside," he said. "I mean, we would have been happy just to practice outside today, let alone play a game... We have been taking ground balls on the gym floor, but that doesn't coincide with this dirt here. It's just been unbelievable. The weather is just killing us."
But even though the Lady Bulldogs had not been out of the gym since they mauled host Granite City 11-1 on March 22, Highland did not show any rust en route to a 10-2 rout of the visiting East Alton-Wood River Oilers.
Highland (3-1) hammered out nine hits — three home runs and five total for extra bases — to go with solid pitching by freshman Samantha Miener and a sure-handed defense backing her up.
The Bulldogs put up a crooked number in four separate innings. Highland followed up a three-run first with two runs in each of the second and third frames before closing it out with a pair of runs in the fifth and a single tally in the sixth.
Wood River (4-5) scored a single run in each of the third and fourth frames, but it was not near enough to hang with the offensive onslaught put on by the Bulldogs.
A trio of Highland seniors — Hannah Sullens, Kourtney Zobrist and Addison Rinderer — collected two hits apiece and provided the bulk of the offensive output. Sullens and Zobrist both homered and had multipe RBIs, while Rinderer tripled and scored three times.
In addition, junior Lily Garbett added a double and a pair of RBIs, freshman Sydney Parkerson added a homer and scored twice, and Miener helped herself with a run-scoring single.
"The girls were ready to play, and they did swing the bat well," Exton said. "We have got plenty of swings in. They have been swinging off coach Glenn (Nicholls), but it's still not curve balls, drop balls, changeups from opposing pitchers trying to throw it by them."
Miener earned her first high school victory in the circle. She did so by going the distance and overpowering the Oilers with 11 strikeouts. She kept Wood River in check, allowing two earned runs on five hits and one walk.
"I thought Sam did a good job today," Exton said. "They definitely didn't hit her hard. Wood River is not a bad team, they beat Alton last week. They've got some good players on their team. They're just not a deep team."
Sullens, a center fielder, went a perfect 2-for-2 with a home run, two RBIs, one walk, one stolen base and one run scored.
In the third inning, Parkerson and Sullens drove back-to-back homers over the left-field fence.
Zobrist, a second baseman, sliced a run-scoring single the opposite way to right field and scored in the first inning on a double by Garbett. Zobrist then clobbered a two-run home run to left in the second inning.
Rinderer helped spark the three-run first inning by yanking a lead-off triple to deep right field before trotting home on Zobrist's single.
In the second, Rinderer reached on an error, stole second base and came around to score on Zobrist's long fly ball that left the yard.
Rinderer led off the sixth with an infield single, stole second base and eventually scored on Garbett's RBI ground out to short.
Highland played its third error-free game of the season and has committed just one error in four games.
"That is really good, and I am very pleased with that number," Exton said.