Tigers defeat Cardinals to win Booster Tourney
News Sports Editor
HILLMAN-Hillman softball coach Rich Price knows his team has plenty of talent this season.
But Price also knows his team is a work in progress, especially early in the season and the Tigers showed on Saturday they still have some work to do to maximize their potential.
Hillman won the 16th annual Hillman Booster Tournament, defeating Au Gres 4-3 (seven innings) in the opener and Whittemore-Prescott 8-2 in the championship game. But even in victory, Price felt his team could’ve played better.
“It always feels good to win the home (invite),” Price said. “We’ve got to work on some small stuff and get stuff clicking, but we’ll get there.”
The Tigers (9-3, 3-1 North Star League) took advantage of Whittemore mistakes to score most of their runs, but they also managed just five hits and hit several balls for easy outs.
Hillman went quietly in the first inning before scoring two runs in each of the last four innings and most of them came on miscues by the Cardinals. In the second inning, Morgan Armon singled to score Kalen Tchorzynski and later came in to score on a passed ball.
In the third inning, Hillman added two more runs for a 4-1 lead when Vanessa Schook scored on a wild pitch and Morgan Dove scored on an infield error.
Dove pitched the Tigers to the win, allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Whittemore made it 3-1 in the top of the third inning when Caitlin Liddell doubled home Cheyenne Lewis. The Cardinals added another run in the top of the sixth inning when Katie Mervyn scored an error to make 8-2.
But it was the errors and misplays that ultimately cost the Cardinals a chance to win. Hillman scored twice in the fourth inning, once on a wild pitch and once after an RBI groundout from Briley Tyler scored Jozie Appelgren.
The Tigers tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning. Armon singled to score Dove and as Armon tried to stretch the single into a double, Eve LaFleche came around to score before Armon was thrown out.
Armon finished with two hits and two RBI and Dove scored twice.
Hillman went down to the wire with Au Gres in the tournament opener, but ultimately won the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when a sac fly from LaFleche scored Dove.
After Au Gres was held to one hit in the top of the seventh inning, Dove led off Hillman’s turn at the plate with a triple before LaFleche scored her.
Hillman led 3-2 after four innings, but found itself in the same spot as it did against Whittemore: only a handful of hits to show for its efforts and too many easy outs given away.
Au Gres tied the game 3-3 in the top of the fifth inning and held the Tigers to just one hit in each of the next two innings. After scoring three runs in the first three innings, Hillman was held to just two hits before the seventh inning.
“I’ve been hearing a lot about Au Gres. (Head coach) Jeri (Christie has) got a good program going on and we didn’t play our game like we should have, but we came away with a win,” Price said.
Schook scored on an error in the first inning to give Hillman a 1-0 lead, but the Wolverines answered back with a run in the top of the second inning.
Au Gres took a 2-1 lead in the top of third inning on a passed ball before Hillman responded in the bottom of the inning. Thanks in part to several errors by Au Gres, the Tigers scored twice to take a 3-2 lead; LaFleche scored on a passed ball and Tchorzynski scored on an error.
Tyler had two hits for Hillman and Tchorzynski earned the win after allowing three runs on six hits with six strikeouts and a walk.
With more than a month to go in the regular season, Price is confident his team will work out its kinks in time for the postseason. He mentioned Hillman found itself in the same position last year despite a 20-0 start and turned things around at the right time.
“It’s just little things and that’s what the season’s for. You work on all those little things and when districts and regionals come around, that’s when it should be together,” Price said. “That’s how it was last year too. We were rolling right along then we ran into some bumps and we fixed them and moved on. We’re there, we’ve just got to get clicking.”