With improved play against a stronger opponent, Hillsboro softball coach Stephanie Sinclair was pleased with her team?s 13-6, 8-4 sweep of Sterling Thursday at the Sports Complex.
?I really felt like we played better defensively compared to last week,? Sinclair said in reference to the team?s sweep of Wichita Collegiate. ?We did not have as many little mistakes, if you take away the last inning of the night.?
She was referring to the seventh inning of Game 2, when her team was riding an 8-0 lead on the one-hit pitching of Franny Gottsch, who had used her change of speeds effectively to keep the Black Bears off stride.
Gottsch struck out the leadoff batter in the seventh and got a third strike past the second one, but the ball got away from the catcher, and the runner was safe at first.
That opened the door to two singles, an error, then a ground out followed by another single and another error before Gottsch recorded the final out with her ninth strikeout of the game.
?I wished we could have finished the game stronger as a team,? Sinclair said. ?We gave (Gottsch) strong defense through the first six; we just need to finish better, keeping our focus.?
The Trojan bats started slowing in Game 2 against Sterling?s starting pitcher Dani Dowell, whose speed resulted in five strikeouts and only one hit through 21?3 innings.
But when the Black Bear center fielder dropped Taylor Nikkel?s line drive, the Trojans got her home with the help of two walks and two wild pitches.
With Dowell still struggling with her control in the fourth, Hillsboro added two more runs without a base hit, thanks to two more walks, a wild pitch and a fielding error on a bunt by Allie Faul.
The Trojans bumped the lead to 4-0 in the fifth, as Sterling committed two more errors. In the sixth, Dowell tired and the Trojans broke loose with four runs on four hits for the 8-0 cushion.
?I felt our girls did a nice job in the second game against a good young pitcher,? Sinclair said. ?Some of the girls did not have a good first at-bat against her, but they responded later in the game. Our experience paid off.?
Hillsboro finished with 14 hits in the game. Sammy Koons and Krista Reimer each went 3-for-4.
Meanwhile, Gottsch walked two and finished with a seven-hitter to improve to 2-0.
In Game 1, the Trojans got to Sterling starter Ashli Bell sooner, scoring twice in the second and third innings for a 4-0 lead. HHS added two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth before exploding for seven in the sixth en route to the seven-run victory.
Trojan starter Courtney Weber had a two-hit shutout through three innings before the Black Bears touched her for two runs with the help of a Trojan fielding error. Errors also contributed to two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and a final run in the seventh.
Weber allowed seven hits, struck out five and walked three to post a 2-0 record.
At the plate, Steph Sanders went 2-for-3 with a run scored and one drive in to pace HHS.
?A few times tonight I wished we could have produced more runs,? Sinclair said. ?We left a lot of opportunities on base, but we will work on being a little more aggressive.?
Coming?The Trojans (4-0) were scheduled to make the long trip to Hoisington Tuesday, then will play at Lindsborg against Smoky Valley Friday. Game time is 4:30 p.m.