Hillsboro High School?s magical softball season finished with two games at the Class 3A state tournament in Manhattan on Saturday, but for all practical purposes it was over after one game.
The Trojans dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 decision to the defending 4A champions from Riverton in the Saturday morning semifinals match. Then, with little time to gather themselves, the Trojans turned right around and played without much heart in a 12-2 loss to Medicine Lodge in the battle for third place.
Hillsboro led Riverton for much of the contest, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Tena Loewen reached on a bunt, advanced to third on singles by Steph Sanders and Krista Reimer, then scored on fielding error on a ball hit by Franny Gottsch. The bases were still loaded at that point, but the Trojans couldn?t cash in anymore runners as Riverton starter Haleigh Sills struck out Courtney Weber for the third out.
The 1-0 lead held until the top of the fifth, when Riverton?s Taylor Price scored on a sacrifice fly after a throwing error by Sanders cost the Trojans an out.
Riverton scored what turned to be the winning run in the sixth, aided by another Trojan throwing error.
Hillsboro, meanwhile, had trouble getting its bats on Simmons? pitching, going four innings (second through sixth) without a hit. In the end, Simmons went the distance and set down the Trojans in order in the bottom of the seventh for the win.
In the third-place game, Weber lasted only one third of an inning before Medicine Lodge had established a 4-0 lead. Gottsch came in to relieve her and finally got the side out, but only temporarily. Medicine Lodge added a run in the second and a whopping seven scores in a disastrous third inning. Weber came back in to pitch and finally got the third out.
Hillsboro scored a morale-salvaging run in the fourth?on two walks and two wild pitches? and one more in the top of the fifth before Weber grounded out for the final out of an otherwise spectacular season.
Hillsboro finished 23-3, which his the best record in program history. Last season, essentially this same team, dominated by freshmen, became the first Trojan squad to go to state. This year they were the first to go in consecutive seasons, and the first to advance to the semifinal round.