HHS softball loses first game in finale

Sammy Koons drove in the winning run with a walk-off walk in the eighth inning, putting Hillsboro on the high end of a 13-12 score in a seesaw battle with Haven last Tuesday at the Sports Complex.

The dramatic three-run rally in Game 2 eased the disappointment of a 15-5 loss in Game 1 that ended Hillsboro?s pursuit of an undefeated regular season.

The Trojans entered the bottom half of the eighth trailing 12-10. After Taylor Nikkel flied out to start the inning, Courtney Weber singled sharply off the pitcher?s glove. Amy Bartel reached first on a dropped fly ball, and Tara Heinrichs loaded the bases with a single to left.

A single by Tena Loewen enabled Weber and Bartel to score the tying runs. Steph Sanders then drew a walk to reload the bases, still with one out. That brought up Koons, who worked pitcher Kristen Hatchel for four balls, forcing in Hein?richs with the game-ending run.

The eighth inning was a microcosm of the whole game, as the two teams took turns gaining and losing leads.

Hillsboro staked an early 3-0 advantage with a run in the first inning and two in the second. But Haven broke out of a hitless start against starter Franny Gottsch with three runs in the fourth, fueled by two hits, two Trojan errors and a run-scoring passed ball.

Hillsboro reclaimed a 4-3 advantage in the bottom of the fourth, only to trail 5-4 halfway through the fifth. The Trojans took a 6-5 lead into the sixth, then trailed 7-6 when they came up to bat in the bottom of the inning. Two runs gave them an 8-7 edge heading into the seventh.

Haven surged for three runs and a 10-8 lead only to see Hillsboro send the game into extra innings when Gottsch singled home Loewen and Sanders to tie the game again.

Three Haven hits in the top of the eighth resulted in two more runs and the 12-10 lead prior to the Trojans? final comeback.

Gottsch (8-0) threw the full eight innings, surrendering nine hits but only five earned runs.

Coming off a doubleheader sweep a week earlier in which they committed only one error the whole day against Halstead, the Trojans committed eight errors in Game 2. The Wildcats committed seven.

?I never felt we were out of the game,? coach Stephanie Sinclair said. ?The difference came down to who would bat last. Both teams were getting decent hits, we just put more together. Neither team played the field well.

?These girls are never going to give in or back down,? Sinclair added about her team. ?This makes them a special bunch of girls.?

In Game 1, the drama of pursing an undefeated regular season was defused early. The Wildcats jumped on starting pitcher Weber for five runs in their first at-bat, combining three hits and a pair of walks with two fielding errors.

Hillsboro answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning, but Haven extended the lead to 7-1 in the third with two more runs off Weber, who was relieved by Gottsch with one out.

Haven bumped the lead to 8-1 before Hillsboro rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth, with run-scoring doubles by Gottsch and Krista Reimer being the only base hits.

Hope for a legendary Trojan comeback win died in the sixth when Haven exploded for seven more runs, all charged to Gottsch. Weber returned to the mound to get the third out.

Hillsboro squeezed out one last run in the next at-bat, but the game ended by run rule after six innings.

?When the score was 8-4, I felt we had good chances to catch up,? Sinclair said. ?Haven is a good hitting team, and I wish we could have gotten some better plays out of the girls when they had runners on base. We hurt ourselves.?

Weber (11-1) absorbed the loss, allowing seven runs (six earned) in 22?3 innings.

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