A near perfect game by Franny Gottsch capped a strong afternoon of pitching and defense by the Hillsboro softball team last Tuesday, and powered the Trojans to a 5-2, 6-1 sweep at Halstead.
With an 18-0 record and one doubleheader to go, the Trojans have clinched the Mid-Central Activi?ties Association championship.
Gottsch retired the first 19 Dragons she faced in Game 2 before giving up a single to Kalee McGee with one out in the seventh. McGee took second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield?the Trojans? only error of the day?and then scored when the next batter singled.
Gottsch (7-0) got all the run support she would need when Hillsboro jumped on Halstead?s Kirsten Sooter for three runs in the first inning. Tena Loewen drove in one with a triple, and Krista Reimer and Courtney Weber added run-scoring singles during the four-hit inning.
Tara Heinrichs drove in a run with a single in the third inning and Stephanie Sanders smacked a double in the fifth that drove in the Trojans? fifth and sixth runs.
On the way to a two-hitter, Gottsch struck out three Dragons and walked no one.
?Franny had them very off balance in Game 2 and I was fairly sure she might get the no-hitter,? coach Stephanie Sinclair said. ?One goal we have is to have a shutout (this season). Hopefully, we?ll get that done.?
Game 1 followed a similar theme, with Hillsboro jumping to a 4-0 lead in the first inning against Halstead?s ace, Aubrey Vansteenburg.
Hillsboro loaded the bases on a triple by Loewen and back-to-back bunts by Sanders and Sammy Koons where the fielder held the ball to keep Loewen from scoring.
Gottsch then cleared the bases with a double to right-center field and advanced to third on the throw to the plate. Gottsch scored when Reimer bunted and the first baseman dropped the throw for what would have been the third out.
Four runs was more than enough offense for Weber, who improved to 11-0 with a five-hitter?three of which resulted in Halstead?s second run in the seventh. She recorded seven strikeouts and one walk.
Hillsboro?s fifth and final run of the game came in the sixth, when Weber tripled down the right-field line and scored on a wild pitch.
Committing only one error for the day was the team?s best defensive effort this season.
?Playing almost errorless was fantastic,? Sinclair said. ?We were overly aggressive on one play, but that was our only mistake.
?I think that makes a huge difference in the opponent?s head when a team is making all the plays and not giving anyone a break.?
Coming?The Trojans were schedule to end their regular season Tuesday with a home doubleheader against Haven (12-6).
Hillsboro will remain at home for regional play starting on Monday. Having clinched the No. 1 seed based on their season record, the Trojans will enjoy a bye in the opening round, then will play their semifinal game at 6:30 p.m.
The championship game will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sports Complex.
Joining Hillsboro in the seven-school field will be Ellin?wood, Ells?worth, Southeast of Saline, Herington, Marion and Sterling.
Visit hillsborofreepress.com for regional seedings and match ups when released on Wednesday.