With an impressive display of pitching, batting and defense, the Hillsboro softball team is off to a 4-0 start following a doubleheader sweep against Hesston Friday at the Sports Complex.
With impressive 9-2 and 13-1 victories against a solid Swather squad, the Trojans have averaged more than 14 runs per game while limiting their opponents to 0.75 runs. The defense has committed only three errors all season.
?I have been most pleased with the improvements from Nickerson to the Hesston games,? coach Stephanie Sinclair said. ?We worked on some defensive areas this week and I could see it immediately in the Hesston games. Hesston is a fast team with decent bunters and I felt like we stopped that threat.?
Game 1 against Hesston turned in the second inning, when the Trojans broke a 2-2 tie with a six-run burst against Swather starter Makayla Holopirek.
Kennedy Lucero started it with a one-out double?the first of three two-baggers in the inning. Danae Bina and Shannon Heiser each drove in two runs with doubles. Eleven Trojans batted, generating seven hits.
The right arm of pitcher Allison Weber carried the Trojans the rest of the way.
After surrendering one run in the opening inning, then a home run to Abby Shirley in the second, Weber settled in and shut out the Swathers the rest of the way.
The junior struck out a total of eight batters, and scattered five hits over the final five innings.
The Trojans wasted little time in Game 2, scoring two runs in the first inning?including a leadoff triple by Weber and a double by Bradli Nowak?then broke the game open in the second with a five-run rally.
Nowak?s three-run home run over the left-field fence was the big blow.
The Trojans pushed the outcome into mercy-rule territory with a six-run third inning. Weber, Klein and Nowak each contributed run-scoring doubles. By the time the dust settled, Hills?boro led 13-1.
Julie Sinclair pitched the four-inning victory for Hills?boro. The junior southpaw allowed one unearned run while striking out seven.
For the day, Nowak had six hits?including four doubles and the home run?in five official at-bats with five runs batted in. She also scored six runs.
Klein was right there, too, going 4-for-6 with six RBIs and four runs scored.
?Bradli and Madison are outstanding hitters, and this comes from all the practice and dedication throughout the years,? Coach Sinclair said. ?Both of them are patient and read pitches well.?
Nickerson?Hillsboro?s season debut was anything but dramatic as the Trojans rolled to a 15-0 and 20-0 sweep in games ended by run rule after four and three innings, respectively.
The Trojans jumped to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning in Game 1 and never looked back. Bradli Nowak?s two-run single was the big hit of inning. She finished the game with two hits and two sacrifice flies in four at-bats, and drove in five runs.
Seven Trojans had at least two hits in the contest, led by Madison Klein with three hits in three official at-bats. She also scored four times. As a team, the Trojans pounded out 16 hits.
Julie Sinclair pitched all four innings to pick up the two-hit shutout victory. The junior left-hander faced only 16 batters and struck out eight of them.
Game 2 was more lopsided even though the Trojans had fewer hits (10). Seven Panther errors, plus six walks, aided the cause.
Leading 12-0 after two innings, Hillsboro exploded for eight more runs in the third inning to put the game into the 15-run-lead-after-three-innings mercy rule.
Klein completed a perfect day at the plate with two more hits. She finished with five hits in five official at-bats with five RBIs and seven runs scored. Nowak added two more hits to go 4-for-5 for the day with seven RBIs and five runs scored.
Junior right-hander Allison Weber allowed only one hit on the way to her shutout win. She struck out five batters in three innings.
?Our pitching looked sharp,? coach Stephanie Sinclair said. ?Giving up only three hits on the night speaks highly of their efforts?the catchers made all the calls, too.?
The Trojans committed only one error for the day while Nickerson had 10.
Sinclair was pleased with her defense as a whole, but added, ?We need to be a little more aggressive on bunt defense.?
Coming?The Trojans were scheduled to play Tuesday at Smoky Valley then will host Kingman Thursday. Game time has been changed from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.