Big innings key Hurons’ sweep of Tigers

News Photo by James Andersen Hillman’s Briley Tyler, left, leads off of third base while Rogers City third baseman Catheryn Hart waits on a pitch during a softball game on Monday in Rogers City.

ROGERS CITY–The Rogers City softball team did a good job taking advantage of opportunities on Monday.

Kyrsten Altman and Taylor Fleming each hit a home run and the Hurons used one big inning in each game to overtake Hillman for a pair of 8-1 victories during a doubleheader in Rogers City.

“I thought we did a nice job. It was a nice day for ball,” Rogers City coach Karl Grambau said. “I was happy with how we did. We’re a work in progress, but we’ve got a pretty good hitting lineup.”

The big inning for the Hurons (6-3) in the nightcap was the fourth inning as they batted around while plating five runs. Kyley LaFleche scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball and the Hurons subsequently loaded the bases on walks. Amanda Wirgau gave the Hurons some cushion with a two-run single and Rogers City added two more runs after Jeffra Dittmar scored Taylor Fleming on a sac fly and Catheryn Hart singled to score Wirgau.

Leading 6-1 in the fifth inning, Fleming added to the Hurons’ lead with a two-run blast to center field.

Hillman (2-3-1) scored a run in the top of the fourth inning when Joslyn Brown singled to plate Alison Samp.

After struggling to make contact in the opener, Hillman fared better in the nightcap, but didn’t score again and ultimately stranded seven base runners.

“All the night, the girls played really well. In the first game we were a little nervous,” Hillman coach Ken Rundell said. “In the second game we kept our composure and put the ball in play.”

Hillman got runners at the corners with one out in the fourth after Samp scored, but the Hurons escaped the jam with a flyout and a groundout. Rogers City dodged another rally attempt in the fifth, leaving Hillman runners stranded on first and second.

The Tigers got one last shot at it in the sixth inning and loaded the bases on walks to beginning the inning. Altman was reinserted as Rogers City’s pitcher in place of Fleming and easily ended the threat, striking out two consecutive batters and ending the game on a flyout.

“We’ll just keep talking about situations and trying to get that key hit (at the right time),” Rundell said. “That’s the goal.”

Altman earned the win after allowing a run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts. She threw a gem in the first game, keeping Hillman’s hitters guessing with a solid mix of pitches to earn the complete game win. She struck out the first six batters she faced and seven of Hillman’s first nine batters. She finished the with 11 strikeouts and allowed a run on two hits.

In addition to dominating Hillman on the mound, Altman provided the big hit at the plate in the opener. During a five-run third inning, Altman hit a three-run blast to center field with two outs to put the Hurons ahead 8-0. All five of Rogers City’s five third-inning runs came with two outs and Linnea Hentkowski had Rogers City’s other big hit during the rally, hitting a two-run double.

“We work on hitting a lot and we’re always confident that any one of our hitters can go up and get a hit,” Grambau said.

Hillman’s only run came in the fourth inning when Brown scored Samp on an RBI groundout. Briley Tyler singled in the third inning for Hillman’s only other hit.

From the outset, the Hurons were patient at the plate and worked counts deep against Hillman starter Bailey Schook. Rogers City loaded the bases on walks to start the game before Dittmar singled to right on a 3-2 pitch to plate two runs. Hart then followed with an RBI double.

Hillman will play at Au Gres on Wednesday and Rogers City will host the Wolverines on Thursday.