Early leads carry Trojans to sweep of Halstead

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
This time, a couple of quick starts held up well as the Hillsboro softball team took two games from Halstead on Friday by scores of 5-2 and 19-4.

The wins were the team’s fifth and sixth in a row and raised it’s record to 8-2.

The Trojans, who have seen early leads dwindle during the season, jumped on Halstead starter Megan Wedel for four runs on three hits to start Game 1.

Amy Duerksen and Emily Ratzlaff delivered back-to-back run-scoring hits for the Trojans.

Halstead came right back in the bottom of the first with three hits and a run against starter Marissa Diener.

Hillsboro scored its last run of the game in the top of the second when Danielle Goossen, who reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out by Laura Lindsay.

The Trojan offense dried up after that, but fortunately the defense kept the Dragons at bay by committing only one error in the game. Halstead did score a run in the bottom of the seventh with the help of two walks and a single.

Coach Carolyn Long wasn’t surprised that Halstead was competitive in this its first season of softball.

“They have a lot of youth on their team, but those girls play all summer-they do have some experience,” Long said.

Diener (4-1) gave up six hits and struck out eight despite an inconsistent strike zone from the home-plate umpire. She walked an uncharacteristic four batters and went to three balls on several more.

“It was frustrating for both Marissa and their pitcher,” Long said. “‘(The umpire) didn’t call any corners, which didn’t allow for much movement of the pitch, although Marissa did come through with eight strikeouts.”

Goossen knocked out two hits in four trips to the plate, scored twice and drove in one run, while Duerksen went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a run batted in to lead HHS.

Game 2 turned into a laugher almost from the start. The Trojans took advantage of nine walks and two hit batters by starter Ashley Douglas to score 15 runs in the first two innings. Seven Halstead errors helped, including six in a 10-run second inning.

Hillsboro chipped in only three hits during the two-inning surge.

At the end of three innings, the Trojans were up 16-0. Had both coaches agreed, the game could have been called because of the 15-run rule.

But Halstead wanted to keep going and Hillsboro promptly rewarded their determination by committing three errors and giving up four runs on two hits in the bottom of the fourth.

The game was called because of the 10-run rule after five innings.

Lindsay (4-0) went the distance for Hillsboro, giving up only four hits while striking out six Dragons and walking none.

“Lately, we’ve struggled to maintain focus between games, allowing our opponents to score right away,” Long said.

“The girls came out strong in Game 2, both offensively and defensively,” she added. “It’s hard when you get up by 15 to continue to do the little things. But we did OK. We’ll take a 19-4 game from time to time.”

Coming-The Trojans were scheduled to play host to Smoky Valley on Tuesday. A report of that game will appear in this week’s Hillsboro Free Press Extra Thursday late afternoon.

The Trojans will travel to Inman Thursday for a doubleheader that starts at 4:30 p.m., then won’t play again until a week later.

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