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Hillman softball team falls in quarterfinals

RUDYARD — The third time was the charm for the Rudyard softball team.

Pitcher Morgan Bickel struck out 12 batters and the Bulldogs topped Hillman 4-1 in a Division 4 quarterfinal in Rudyard on Tuesday.

The win sends the Bulldogs to the semifinals on Friday at Michigan State University’s Seccia Stadium, where they will play Holton.

Rudyard had previously been beaten by Rogers City in the quarterfinals in 2018 and 2019.

Hillman took an early lead Tuesday, scoring the game’s first run in the second inning on a solo home run from Jessica Jones.

But the rest of the game belonged to Rudyard, who scored two runs each in the third and fourth innings to win.

Bickel also walked four batters, but allowed just one run on five hits, the last four of which were singles.

Jones led Hillman with two hits and Saige Flaugher, Cassidy Benac and Regina Morrison had a hit each.

Hillman pitcher Nicole Barbeau struck out six and walked two, allowing four earned runs on five hits.

Rudyard escaped a jam in the top of third inning, leaving two Hillman runners on the bases after Bickel induced a strikeout and a lineout to end the threat.

The Bulldogs then took the lead in the bottom of the inning, plating a run on a passed ball and pulling ahead on a sacrifice fly from Bickel.

In the fourth inning, Rudyard’s Karlee Mayer stole home to make it 3-1 and Chesney Molina doubled home Rudyard’s final run.

Hillman got two runners on again in the seventh inning after Kylee Green walked and Flaugher singled. But the Bulldogs escaped again when a Hillman courtesy runner was called out for offensive interference on a single by Benac and Bickel induced a flyout to end the ball game.

Despite the loss, Hillman ended the season with postseason hardware after winning its first district and regional championships since 2015 as well as the North Star League’s Little Dipper title.

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