ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro finally overcame Mother Nature and picked up a pair of easy wins over Moundridge Monday, 15-4 and 15-1.
The doubleheader was rained out originally April 10 and then again Friday. On this day, though, the only thunder came from the Trojan bats as Hillsboro (14-4) collected 20 hits over the two games.
The first game was close through three innings. With the score knotted at 4-4, the Trojans opened the fourth with a home run by Robyn Penner, then added two more runs before the inning ended to take a 7-4 lead.
Hillsboro put the game away in the fifth with eight more runs.
Jill Hein also homered for Hillsboro with a solo round-tripper in the third.
In the second game, Hillsboro broke a 1-1 tie after one inning with six runs in the second. Hein’s second home run of the day was the big blow.
Hillsboro went up by another run, 8-1, in the third, then took complete control of the game with five more runs in the fourth.
“(Moundridge) started off both games with pretty solid hitting and defensive play, but from there we had a couple of big innings and broke the games open,” said coach Carolyn Long.
“We had several hits that were pretty deep in the outfield, which forced them to move that last line of defense out further,” she said. “Then there was so much area for them to cover that their infielders couldn’t get deep enough for the little pops over the infield, and their outfielders were way too deep to catch them.”
Pitcher Holly Lindsay (13-4) picked up both wins with a five-hitter and three-hitter.
Collegiate-Wichita Collegiate scored three runs in the first inning of the first game of their doubleheader with Hillsboro High School May 1, then made the lead stand up to claim a 4-2 win and clinch the MCAA league championship in Wichita.
The Trojans came back on the strength of Holly Lindsay’s three-hitter to win the second game, 4-2.
Hillsboro needed to sweep Collegiate to repeat as league champions. The Spartans, though, came into the games undefeated and state-ranked while Hillsboro had one loss in MCAA play.
Collegiate started the bottom of the first inning with a walk and a single, then got help from two Trojan errors, which enabled all three runners to score.
“We struggled defensively in the first and second innings-it was almost a continuation of Friday’s games with Marion,” coach Carolyn Long said. “After those two bad innings, we found our team again.”
The Trojans, helped by a couple of Spartan errors, came back with a run in the top of the second. Jill Hein made it to first on the first miscue, stole second, then scored when the Collegiate rightfielder misfired to first on Robyn Penner’s batted ball.
HHS pulled within one run in the third. Lindsay reached on an error and advanced to second on a single by Amber Hefley. After Julie Wall walked, Hein scored on an error by Collegiate’s third baseman.
The Spartans, aided by another Trojan error, added an insurance run in the sixth. Hillsboro committed five errors during the contest.
The Trojans managed only three hits against Collegiate pitching.
In the second game, the Trojans scored the only run of the game during their first at-bat.
After Hefley made it to first with two outs on a fielder’s choice, Hein walked and Penner singled, scoring Hefley. Penner’s single was the only hit Hillsboro managed the whole game.
Even without offensive support, Lindsay made the lead stand up with good pitching and better defensive help from her teammates, who committed only two errors in the second game.
“That’s probably the best defense we’ve played,” Long said. “They hit the ball extremely well, (but) our outfielders made that area look small by preventing a ball from getting through or not caught, and the infield communicated extremely well.”
Collegiate’s biggest threat came in the fifth when they put together a walk and two singles to load the bases with one out. But the Trojans escaped without harm when Lindsay grabbed a ground ball, threw to catcher Julie Wall for the second out, and Wall fired to first for the third out.
“Those are the things you work on in practice, but you just never know how it will play out in a game,” Long said.
Coming-The Trojans were scheduled to complete regular-season play Tuesday with a doubleheader against Canton-Galva. Regional play begins next Wednesday at Southeast of Saline.
Long was hopeful of still getting a No. 1 seed if they managed to win both games against Canton-Galva.
“It will definitely be to our advantage to be seeded first so we don’t have to play Herington or Southeast in the first round,” she said.