Two-out hitting leads Hillman past Cards
Tigers stretch streak to 8 after sweeping doubleheader
HILLMAN — For the first time this season, the Hillman softball team played two six inning games as it swept Whittemore-Prescott by scores of 7-2 and 9-2 on Wednesday at Hillman High School.
“It was a good battle tonight. Both games were hard fought because Whittemore came out hitting which put a lot of pressure on our pitchers and defense, but I think we were just able to wear them down over time and in the end we came out on top,” Hillman coach Ken Rundell said.
The Cardinals opened game one with a run in first inning to take an early lead, but the lead was short lived as Hillman quickly answered with three runs of its own in the home half of the first.
Lyndsey Ryba led the Tigers off with a walk, stole second and later scored on a wild pitch after Eve LaFleche singled.
The key to Hillman’s success was its ability to produce runs with two outs, which started in the first inning of game one. After Ryba scored and LaFleche reached on a single, Morgan Dove blasted a two-run home run to put the Tigers on top, giving them a lead they didn’t surrender.
Whittemore scored another run in the second on a solo home run to cut the lead to one, but it was as close as the Cardinals got as Hillman tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the second as Jozie Appelgren led off the inning with a single and Brooke Jones belted a two-run homer to extend the Tigers’ lead.
Hillman added its final run of the inning again with two outs as Ryba came across to score after reaching safely on a single when Vanessa Schook ripped a base hit up in the middle.
After allowing two runs in the first two innings on the mound, Schook settled down and silenced the Cardinal bats the rest of the way as she picked up the win, tossing a complete game and allowed just two runs on three hits, walked two and struck out 11.
Offensively, Hillman was led by Dove and Jones who each went yard. Dove had the two-run blast and also scored two runs in the game. Ryba went a perfect 2-for-2 with two stolen bases and two runs scored.
Hillman got some more timely hitting in the nightcap to come away with another victory to complete the sweep.
After dominating on the mound, Schook was the difference at the plate in game two as she pounded the ball all over the field, going 3-for-3 with a triple, two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI.
Schook tripled in the bottom of the first with two outs and scored as Morgan Armon singled her home.
After a scoreless second for both teams, Whittemore took the lead by scoring two runs, but again the lead didn’t last long as the Tigers roared back again with four runs in the third and four more in the fourth.
Hillman scored all four runs in the third with two outs as Schook and Armon hit back-to-back doubles as Schook’s double scored Ryba who singled earlier in the inning and Schook scored on Armon’s double. Dove followed Armon’s double with a walk and Andrea Taratuta came up with a two-out, two-run double that scored both Armon and Dove.
The Tigers took a seven run lead with the four run fourth inning as Eve LaFleche lined a triple down the left field line that cleared the bases, scoring Ryba, Autumn Jones and Alison Samp. A batter later, Schook drove in LaFleche for what would be the final run of the night.
Along with Schook’s big performance in game two, Ryba and Armon both had two hits apiece. Ryba was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base. Armon went 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored. Dove reach base all three plate appearances as she singled, walked twice and scored a run. Taratuta had two RBI and LaFleche drove in three runs.
“We continue to work on our hitting and try to hit the ball hard and hopefully find some holes,” Rundell said. “Our pitchers both did well again tonight, but I give Whittemore credit because they were able to get the bat on the ball which made our pitchers work so that was a good test for both Morgan and Vanessa. I’m proud of all the girls for battling back after they had some runs put on them. It was really nice to see.”
Hillman improves to 8-0 on the season and will have some time off before returning to action on Monday when it travels to Oscoda.
Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690.