ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Sporting a much-improved ability to manufacture runs from their season-opening losses to Marion, the Hillsboro Trojans earned a measure of revenge over their intra-county rivals with a 7-2 win in the semifinals of the Class 3A regional tournament Monday evening in Hillsboro.
Marion had swept the Trojans with late rallies in a couple of low-scoring games when the two teams opened their seasons in late March.
The Warriors were poised for another come-from-behind win in this game, too, trailing 3-2 through five and one-half innings. But Hillsboro pushed across four runs in their half of the inning on the strength of five bunts, a walk, a Marion error and one soft single.
Julie Wall opened the inning with a bunt single to the right side of the infield. After April Funk walked, she and Wall completed a double steal to put runners at second and third.
When Shelby Estelle laid down a bunt, Marion pitcher Megan Moore overthrew first, enabling Wall and Funk to score.
After Robyn Penner followed with a sacrifice bunt to push Estelle to third base, Holly Lindsay bunted for a single, and Emily Donahue followed with a sacrifice bunt to score Estelle.
Emily Ratzlaff finished the scoring rally with a single past second to score Marissa Diener, who was pinch-running for Lindsay.
The Trojans had gotten on the board first with two runs in the first inning on a ground out by Ratzlaff that scored Penner and a ground single to right by Amy Duerksen that scored Donahue. Penner and Donahue had reached base on a passed ball on strike three and a single, respectively.
They added a third run in the second inning when Funk was hit by a pitch, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and an overthrow, and then scored on Penner’s sacrifice bunt.
Marion came right back in the top of the third inning on a well-hit home run by Krista Zogelman that sailed over the head of Penner in right field. The hit also drove in Nikki Moody, who had singled to open the inning.
But those were the only runs scored off of Lindsay, who finished with a six-hitter and six strikeouts. Moore finished with nine strikeouts and gave up five hits.
With the win, the Trojans (15-6) were to face the No. 1 seed, Southeast of Saline, in the championship game on Tuesday. A win in that game would give Hillsboro a berth in the state tournament May 24-25 in Manhattan.
Results of the title game will be reported on the Free Line (947-3363) and the Free Press Web site (old.hillsborofreepress.com.)
The Trojans tuned up for regional play by pounding Inman, 17-1 and 18-4, on the road last Tuesday in their regular-season finale.
Hillsboro accumulated 22 hits for the day, including inside-the-park home runs by Emily Ratzlaff, Emily Donahue and Amy Duerksen.
The opening game was close through two innings. Leading only 3-1, the Trojans opened the third with a single by Ratzlaff. April Funk sacrificed her to second and Danielle Goossen reached on an error. Julie Wall followed with a single, Duerksen reached on an error, and Robyn Penner singled to give the Trojans a commanding 7-1 cushion.
Three more runs in the fourth preceded a seven-run flood in the fifth to put the game far out of reach.
Holly Lindsay gave up an unearned run in the first inning on two Trojan errors, but shut out the Teutons the rest of the way. She finished with a five-inning four-hitter and nine strikeouts. She did not walk a batter.
Hillsboro started Game 2 where it left off, scoring four times in the first inning and six more times in the second inning to put the game out of reach. Donahue’s grand-slam home run in the second inning was the big blow.
Lindsay (12-6) started the second game, but freshman Marissa Diener finished it. The pair combined for a five-hitter with four strikeouts.