The Highland High School softball team won three of five games in a five-day span, including both Mississippi Valley Conference games.
First, on Monday, April 9, the Lady Bulldogs traveled to Jerseyville and nipped the Panthers 5-3 in both teams' conference opener.
On Tuesday, April 10, HHS traveled to Breese and were edged in a 3-2 walk-off winner by the Mater Dei Knights.
Next, on Wednesday, April 11, Highland traveled to Waterloo and dominated the battle of the Bulldogs 7-0.
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Then on Thursday, the Lady Bulldogs hosted Gillespie and slipped by the Miners 5-4.
Finally, on Friday, Highland traveled to Gordon Moore Park in Alton and was shaded by the host Alton Marquette Explorers 2-1.
Going 3-2 moved Highland's overall record to 6-3. The two conference over Jerseyville and Waterloo gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 record to begin the 10-game MVC schedule.
Alton Marquette 2, Highland 1
Explorer ace Meghan Schorman is used to winning games with her pitching arm, but on Friday her bat played a pivotal role in deciding the winner between a pair of Southern Illinois softball powerhouses.
Schorman, one of the best softball pitchers in the state of Illinois, drove home the game-winning run with a pressure-packed, two-out, two-strike bases-loaded walkoff single in the bottom of the seventh inning. Her smash between short and third base ended a well-played battle and kept Marquette undefeated at 13-0. That is the Explorers' best start to a season since they won their first 15 games in 2012.
Kyra Green, Emma Nicholson and Kiley Beth Kirchner had key hits for Marquette, which has outscored its opponents 126-7 this season. Marquette veteran coach Dan Wiedman picked up the 501st win of his 24-year career just 24 hours after beating mid-Illinois toughie Sacred Heart-Griffin to become the 27th coach in state history to hit the 500-win plateau.
Green started the winning rally with a single to right. Nicholson followed with a bunt that was mishandled and Kirchner beat out a slow roller to third to load the bases. Schorman then connected on a 2-2 offering and lashed it in the hole in the left side of the infield to bring in pinch-runner Josey Wahl for the game-winner tally.
Schorman struck out 13 batters and surrendered only three hits. She actually allowed an earned run, only her second one of the season in 61 innings.
In the fourth inning, Highland senior Kourtney Zobrist walked, stole second base, moved up to third on a groundout and then scored on freshman Sydney Parkerson's two-out RBI single to tie the game at 1-1. Zobrist also had a hit for the Lady Bulldogs.
Marquette pushed across a run in the second on a strong at-bat by Nicholson, who fouled off four successive 3-2 pitches before driving in pitch-runner Makensie Card.
The game appeared to be headed to extra innings before the Explorers mounted the walk-off two-out rally against Miener, who gave up two runs (just one earned run) and seven hits to a team that is averaging 9.7 runs per game.
Schorman was the only player with two hits in the game. In the circle, she improved to 9-0 with a 0.23 ERA. She has 116 strikeouts compared to just 18 walks.
Highland 5, Gillespie 4
The game got off to a wild start with matching three-run home runs in the first inning. Then the pitching settled down and both teams combined to score three runs the rest of the game, with Highland pulling out a hard-fought one-run victory.
Gillespie (7-3) got to Highland senior left-hander Addison Rinderer in the first inning with a leadoff single and a one-out walk setting the table for Rylee Sarti's three-run homer over the fence in right-center field.
The deficit was short-lived, however, as the Lady Bulldogs answered right back. Senior Kourtney Zobrist drew a one-out walk and senior Hannah Sullens was hit by a pitch to set the table. Junior Lily Garbett cleared it by lining a three-run blast that cleared the fence near the left-field line.
After the Miners got two more hits and reclaimed the lead at 4-3 on Rylee Jarman's sacrifice fly to right, Rinderer stayed composed and blanked the Miners over the last five innings on just three hits and two walks to earn her third win of the season. Rinderer finished with five strikeouts.
Highland again had the response, this time in the bottom of the fourth inning. Freshman Sydney Parkers smoked a leadoff double to the gap in right-center. Then after two outs, freshman Delaina Sigman crushed the first offering, an inside fastball, over the second fence, which is the original fence for a two-run bomb.
After striking out looking in her first at-bat, freshman Delaina Sigman made the adjustment in her second plate appearance and her first high school home run proved to the difference in the game.
"She tried jamming me again, and I knew what I had to fix from my first at-bat," Sigman said. "So when I stepped back into the box, I knew what I had to do. I wasn't sure it was a home run, I just knew I hit it solid, and that's all that matters to me. If it wasn't for my teammates, I probably couldn't have hit that home run, because practicing with them as a freshman really helped me step up my game. And I've just worked really hard to get here. All of my teammates did so great tonight, and I am so proud of them."
After Sarti hit her three-run homer to open the game, Rinderer said she was just hoping her offense would buckle down and get some hits and runs.
"When Lily hit hers, that was awesome, and I even called it in the dugout," Rinderer said. "It took some pressure off me. And then we were down again, (but) I knew we would come back again, and Delaina pulled through for us. I wasn't at my best today, and I know I can do better. The strike zone was very tight, but I worked through it and did my job."
Adding one hit each for Highland were Sullens and fellow seniors Lauren Baer and Breann Wernle.
Keaton Link had two hits for Gillespie and Sydney Henrichs, who also had a hit, was the losing pitcher after allowing five earned runs on six hits and three walks with nine strikeouts.
Highland 7, Waterloo 0
Freshman Samantha Miener was the star of the game both in the circle and at the dish.
In the circle, Miener overmatched Waterloo's bats by firing a complete-game two-hit shutout to rack up her second victory. She punched out seven.
At the plate, Miener pounded out two hits and four runs batted in. She had an RBI single and then later capped off the game's scoring by walloping a three-run double in the top of the seventh.
Highland pounded out 13 hits, highlighted by five players with multiple hits.
Rinderer, the team's leadoff hitter, went a perfect 4-for-4 with one stolen base, one run batted in and one run scored.
Baer, Garbett and Sullens joined Miener with two hits apiece. Baer also doubled and scored twice and Garbett also had one RBI and one run.
In addition, Sigman had a double and one RBI.
Mater Dei 3, Highland 2
Highland natice AJ Hallemann hit a walk-off single in the home half of the seventh to break up a 2-2 tie and propel the Knights to the victory over the Bulldogs.
Mater Dei pitcher Haley Palm went the distance and held Highland to two runs (none earned) and three walks while striking out seven.
Sigman worked the first six innings for the Bulldogs, allowing two earned runs on five hits and two bases on balls. She struck out four.
Sigman came in to relieve her in the seventh and got the loss after yielding an unearned run, one hit and one walk with one strikeout.
RInderer led Highland with two hits, while Sigman (double), Garbett and Wernle (one run) each had one hit. Also, Sullens had one RBI, and junior Lexy Gilliam had one run.
Sophie Mondt was tops for Mater Dei with two hits to go with one RBI, and Palm also hit a solo home run.
Highland 5, Jerseyville 3
The Bulldogs took an early lead with two runs in the top of the first. Jerseyville took the lead with a three-run fifth, only to watch Highland snatch the win with a three-run sixth.
Rinderer pitched the complete game and gave up three earned runs on five hits and four walks to go with four strikeouts.
Leading Highland's eight-hit attack were Sullens and Zobrist, each with two hits. Sullens also doubled, tripled, drove in a pair of runs and scored a pair of runs.
Contributing one hit apiece for the Bulldogs were Pakerson (triple, one RBI, one run), Wernle (RBI), Garbett (double) and senior Sydney Harnetiaux (one RBI).
Jerseyville got a solo homer from Lauren Brown and a triple, one RBI and one run from Peyton Tisdale.
Claire Anderson took the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits with three strikeouts.