?Small ball? victory propels HHS softball to 8-0

For a team that?s been getting its fair share of home runs and extra-base hits this season, it took some ?small ball? to get past a strong Smoky Valley pitcher in Game 1 of Friday?s softball doubleheader at Lindsborg.

The 4-3 win generated some momentum for a 10-6 victory in Game 2 to extend the Trojans? win streak to eight games to start the season.

With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the seventh, and HHS held scoreless since the second inning, freshman Tena Loewen managed an infield single off Viking freshman flame-thrower Eryn Stockman with one out.

On the next pitch, Loewen beat the throw to second base for a contested steal, then advanced to third shortly after when the ball popped out of the catcher?s mitt.

Teammate Steph Sanders then executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to bring Loewen home.

Trojan pitcher Courtney Weber then retired the Vikings in order in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the 4-3 win.

Hillsboro had managed a 3-1 lead through two innings, thanks to early control problems by Stockman?who walked five batters over that stretch?and some timely passed balls.

But Smoky Valley tied the game in the fifth with a couple of infield hits, a sacrifice bunt and two Weber pitches that got past catcher Allie Faul.

For the game, Weber surrendered only two hits, struck out six and walked one on her way to a 4-0 season record.

Stockman struck out seven Trojans and walked seven.

Hillsboro started slowly against Viking pitcher Jordan Sherwood in Game 2. Trailing 3-1 through three innings, the Trojans broke through for five runs on five hits in the fourth. Weber, Faul and Sanders each smacked a double, Sammy Koons ripped a triple and Franny Gottsch drove in Koons for the fifth run with a single.

Hillsboro scored four more times in the fifth on only one hit to boost the lead to 10-3 and drive Sherwood from the game. Stockman came on in relief and shut down the Trojans the rest of the way, but the lead was large enough to finish with the four run-victory.

Gottsch improved her pitching record to 4-0, with Weber returning to get the last out of the game after Gottsch walked two batters earlier in the inning. She scattered four hits, struck out two and walked five in 62?3 innings.

Hoisington?Playing in their third straight wind-blown doubleheader of the new season, the Trojans put up 29 runs with 32 hits in a run-rule sweep at Hoisington last Tuesday, 16-6 and 13-3.

The biggest display of firepower came in the sixth inning of Game 1 when the Trojans, already leading 11-6, got back-to-back-to-back home runs by Taylor Nikkel, Tena Loewen and Amy Bartel on the way to a five-run explosion that blew the game open. Nikkel?s and Bartel?s blasts sailed over the fence, Loewen?s was inside the park.

The Trojans got off to a strong start with a five-hit, four-run first inning highlighted by Sammy Koons? two-run double.

Tena Loewen went 4-for-5 for the game, with a triple and home run, and scored four times to pace the Trojans? 18-hit assault. Krista Reimer contributed three hits in five at-bats and scored three times.

On the mound, Courtney Weber allowed only five hits and two earned runs. She struck out six and walked only one to improve her record to 3-0.

In Game 2, a six-run second inning provided more than enough offense for the victory. Franny Gottsch, Koons, Reimer, Nikkel and Loewen all contributed base hits in a surge that pushed Hillsboro?s lead to 7-1.

The Trojans scored in every inning and finished with 14 hits for the game, which ended after five innings because of the 10-run rule.

Gottsch (3-0) surrendered a run in the first inning, then allowed only one hit in three shutout innings before a fielding error contributed to a two-run fifth inning for the home team. The sophomore finished with a six-hitter, striking out four and walking two.

Nikkel, Loewen and Koons each went 4-for-3 at the plate and scored seven of Hillsboro?s 13 runs.

?The girls did a nice job relaxing and hitting the ball well,? coach Steph Sinclair said. ?We are also running the bases and executing plays better. The girls kept their composure with the wind being so severe at times.?

Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to face Hesston Tuesday, then will travel to Lyons Friday for a 4:30 p.m. doubleheader.

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