HHS, Nickerson swap marathon wins

Evenly matched may be an understatement.

Hillsboro and Nickerson made the Trojans? home-opener memorable Friday by playing two 10-inning games, with each team winning one of those games by a single run.

Amy Bartel?s base hit drove home Stephanie Sanders with two out in the 10th inning to give the Trojans a 3-2 win in Game 1, but Nickerson prevailed in Game 2, 8-7.

Hillsboro had multiple chances to secure the doubleheader sweep, but couldn?t get it done.

Leading 6-4 going into the top of the seventh, the Trojans needed only three outs to nail down the win. But the Panthers rallied for three runs against ace Courtney Weber to put HHS on the ropes, 7-6.

To their credit, the Trojans rallied to send the game into extra innings on Bartel?s second big hit of the night?a two-out infield single that enabled Sammy Koons to score from third. Koons had doubled to right field with one out and advanced to third on a ground out.

In both the eighth and ninth innings, the Trojans had runners on second and third with only one out. In the eighth, the next two batters popped out, and in the ninth, base-running errors ended the threat.

In the decisive 10th, Nicker?son?s LeAnna Weesner led off with a single. After a strikeout and a ground out, Mariah Rodriguez drove her home with a hard ground single to left.

The Trojans went down in order in the bottom of the 10th to end the marathon after nearly five hours.

?I was frustrated that we could not get the runs in the second game,?coach Stephanie Sinclair said. ?We just needed a fly ball with Tena up and she tried. Our anxious baserunning hurt us, too.?

After trailing Nickerson, 2-1, for much of Game 1, Hillsboro tied the game in the sixth inning on a one-out single by Weber, Bartel?s sacrifice bunt and freshman Danae Bina?s triple to right center.

Hillsboro finally pushed across the winning run in the 10th when Sanders got on base after Nickerson?s center fielder dropped her fly ball. After Nikkel advanced on a bunt by Koons and fly ball by Weber, Bartel drilled her game-winning hit through the right side.

?I know I can count on Amy,? Sinclair said. ?She does some nice things for us at bat. She is talented with hitting, bunting and has speed.?

Weber (2-1) pitched all 20 innings for the Trojans?one inning short of three regulation games. Keona Jordan pitched both games for Nickerson.

?Courtney was pitching so well in the end of the first game that I felt this was the best time to see what her endurance would be like,? Sinclair said. ?I was pleased. I also know we can turn to Tena if needed.?

Pratt?Battling chilly winds as well as the home team, Hills?boro split its season-opening doubleheader at Pratt March 29.

Two runs in the top of the seventh carried HHS to a 5-2 win in Game 1, while Pratt scored all five of its runs in the first two innings on the way to a 5-1 victory in Game 2.

In the opener, Hillsboro took a 3-0 lead with two runs in the third and one in the fourth, but Pratt rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fourth to keep it close.

In the top of the seventh, Hillsboro scored what proved to be the winning runs on a walk to Erin Loewen, a one-out single by Tena Loewen and a sacrifice by Stephanie Sanders.

Pratt challenged in the bottom of the seventh with a run on three hits, but the Trojans ended the game with a double play to preserve the win.

Courtney Weber went the distance, scattering 10 hits. Hills?boro managed only six hits in the contest but was aided by four Greenback errors.

In Game 2, Hillsboro took a 1-0 lead with a run in the first inning, but Pratt jumped on Tena Loewen for five runs in her pitching debut. Only one run was earned, though.

?She will work more on her off-speed pitches and that will help,? coach Stephanie Sinclair said. ?Our defense did not back her up very well.?

For the game, the Trojans committed five errors and managed only five hits.

?Our hitting was down some,? Sinclair said. ?I really felt we should have hit better in the beginning of each game. We did not get the output from some key players that I would expect each night.

?Their starting pitchers were not overpowering and we need to take advantage of that.?

Despite seven errors for the day, Sinclair saw moments of strong defense.

?We had some amazing stops on defense that kept singles from being doubles,? she said. ?The girls want to get back out and work on the weaknesses. They understand our shortcomings.?

Coming?Hillsboro (2-2) was scheduled to play at home Tues?day against Hesston, then will travel to Kingman Friday. The Trojans will play at Lyons next Tuesday.

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