Lately, holding the Hillsboro varsity softball team to four hits has been unheard of. The offensive display Hillsboro has put out there game after game has been pretty consistent. But that’s what happened yesterday in the first game of the St. Louis Suburban Softball Showdown in Kirkwood. The Hawks managed just four hits and dropped a 6-2 decision to Summit.
Now Summit is no slouch…after winning two games yesterday, they’re 8-0 on the season. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead after three innings on Elly Eckrich who has been nails in the circle so far this year. And the Summit pitcher wasn’t overpowering…she struck out just two hitters. But other than Amber Cage, the Hawks were baffled.
“I feel like we couldn’t get anything going because we had a lack of patience, and we didn’t have good timing with the pitches,” Cage said. “We weren’t seeing the ball well enough to put enough hits together to score, and also we weren’t focused enough.” Cage got three of the four hits the Hawks could muster, and they had some authority behind them. Cage doubled to lead off the second, but was stranded at third. In the bottom of the fourth, after Ellie Bartlett singled, Cage lifted a home run to center to cut the lead in half to 4-2. In the bottom of the sixth, her final at bat, she singled with two outs but was stranded. With Bartlett’s hit in the fourth, and Cage’s three hits, that was it for the Hawks.
So how did Cage have such a big day? “I have been going to hitting lessons about once a week to stay on top of things, stay in the groove, not lose any momentum, and keep doing what I know how to do,” she said.
Eckrich didn’t pitch badly for Hillsboro. She went the distance giving up six runs on nine hits. She struck out five and walked two.
So the second pool game later in the evening was important for the Hawks to get back to their winning ways. And they came out with a vengeance against Lindbergh. After Alex Wick retired the Flyers in the first, the Hawks went up 2-0 when Bailey Shuman led off with a walk and advanced to third on a base hit by Julz Johnson. The Hawks executed a double steal, and Johnson was retired at second, but Shuman crossed the plate and scored the first run. Then, Bartlett, who was at the plate during the steal, homered to center.
Hillsboro added three more runs in the second on a two run double by Johnson, and a RBI single by Bartlett. Then HHS added three more in the third thanks to a bases loaded walk to Wick, a fielder’s choice grounder by Kora King, and a fielder’s choice grounder by Shuman. Meanwhile, Wick was handling the Flyers from the circle. She held them scoreless until the sixth, and only allowed two unearned runs on five hits. She struck out five and walked none as the Hawks were victorious 8-2.
Wick said that, despite the lead given to her, she didn’t change anything. “My approach to hitters didn’t change throughout the game,” she explained. “I feel like we had to go out strong after the outcome of the first game.” Johnson agreed. “It was important to rebound from our loss against Rockwood Summit and gain a win so that we could be placed higher in our pool. We don’t like losing, so when we do, we try to bounce back so we don’t have to feel another loss. especially in the same night.”
Johnson, Bartlett, and Eckrich each had two hits as the Hawks got back to their double-digit hitting style. They banged out ten hits in the game. Johnson said the difference between the two games was evident. “I think the offense picked up against Lindbergh because we were more focused,” she admitted. “Our bats started early that game which brought our confidence up. When the team is focused and confident, we are hard to beat.” Avery Dean, Cage, Alanah Dunphy, and King each had one hit to round out the attack.
So Hillsboro’s 1-1 record yesterday sets up a game today against Marquette. Marquette beat Fox, 5-0 and Parkway South, 7-3 yesterday to win Pool D. Today’s game will start at 5:00 p.m. on Field Two at the Kirkwood Athletic Complex. If Hillsboro wins, they’ll play on Field One at 7:00 p.m. against the winner of Holt and Webster. If the Hawks lose, they’ll play the loser of that game at 7:00 p.m. on Field Two.