ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro tuned up for regional play Friday with a pair of easy wins over Sterling at the Sports Complex. The 12-2 and 16-2 run-rule victories gave the Trojans an 18-2 finish for the regular season-the best record in the eight-year history of the program.
“This was a great way to send our seniors out,” said first-year head coach Stephanie Sinclair. “The girls played well.”
In Game 1, the Trojans took a modest 2-0 lead in the opening inning when both Amanda Bina and Meghan Jost, running for Laura Lindsay, scored on a sacrifice bunt by Jessica Klose.
“We were able to try a lot of base running tonight with regionals in mind,” Sinclair said her team’s day-long aggressiveness on the base paths.
But that early burst was only a warmup for the main event-a nine-run explosion in the second inning that ended any hope of a competitive battle.
Hillsboro combined six hits with five walks and scored three runs on wild pitches to blow the game open.
The Trojans extended the lead to 12-0 in the third inning on a run-scoring single by Klose.
The Black Bears scored their only two runs on a single, an error and a double to start the fourth inning.
But Trojan senior Laura Lindsay, making her last pitching start on the home field, struck out the next two batters and retired the third on a grounder to extinguish the uprising.
Those were the only hits Lindsay (10-1) allowed the entire game. She struck out six Black Bears and did not surrender a walk over five innings.
Amanda Bina had three of Hillsboro’s eight hits, scored twice and drove in two runs to pace the attack.
Game 2 proved to be more of the same. The Trojans jumped to a 4-0 lead during their first at bat and were up 6-0 after two innings.
Sterling made it interesting in the top of the third when, with two outs, the Black Bears combined a single, triple and a fielding error to cut the lead to 6-2.
In response, the Trojans exploded again, this time for 10 runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Trojans needed only three base hits in the inning, capitalizing instead on five walks and three errors by Sterling.
Sophomore pitcher Jenesa Klose (8-1), meanwhile, allowed only two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four to pick up the comfortable win.
Jessica Klose, her twin sister and battery-mate, sparked the offense with three hits and six RBIs in four at-bats.
Halstead-Hillsboro grabbed a pair of 6-4 victories at Halstead on Tuesday to improve to 16-2.
In the opener, the Trojans scored twice in the top of the seventh to break a 4-4 tie.
Amanda Bina started the rally with her fourth hit in four at-bats. Laura Lindsay walked, Laura Skiles bunted for a hit and Jessica Klose contributed a run-scoring single.
The game was close from the start. Both teams scored one run in their first at-bat, but Hillsboro took a 2-1 lead in the second when Bina drove in Jenesa Klose with a two-out single against Halstead starter Christa Henning.
When Hillsboro extended its lead to 4-1 in the fifth, the Trojans appeared to take control. Laura Skiles delivered a run-scoring triple, then scored on a base hit by Jessica Klose.
But in the bottom of the sixth, the Dragon tied the score at 4-4 with a three-run burst against Hillsboro ace Laura Lindsay, who gave up three hits in the inning. Her teammates opened the gate with an infield error.
Lindsay (9-1) surrendered eights for the game. She stuck out four batters and walked two.
“She struggled some but hung in there,” coach Stephanie Sinclair said. “We only committed one error in the first game-that really helped.”
In Game 2, Jenesa Klose squared off on the mound against Halstead’s Ashley Douglas for another nail-biter.
Hillsboro took a 2-0 lead in the opening inning without the benefit of a base hit. Bina and Lindsay reached on errors, Skiles and Jessica Klose walked and Suzy Lindsay drove in a run with a ground out.
Helped by two Trojan errors, Halstead tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the second.
Hillsboro jumped to a 4-2 lead when Steph Abbott and Lora Andrews crossed the plate in the top of the fourth. Laura Lindsay’s RBI single was the Trojans’ only base hit in the inning.
Halstead crept back to 4-3 with an unearned run in sixth. But Hillsboro responded with two runs in the seventh on one base hit and two Dragon errors.
Halstead started the seventh with three consecutive singles, but Jenesa Klose (7-1) escaped with only one run scored. For the game, she scattered eight hits, walked two and struck out four.