After 22 games this season, the Hillsboro Hawks, as a team, are batting .338 (give or take a few percentage points). The team averages over 11 hits a game, and that trend continued over the last three games. On Friday, Hillsboro won a crazy ballgame, 13-11 over Fox. That was followed with a 17-5 victory over Jefferson on Monday. Yesterday (Tuesday), the Hawks fell to Cor Jesu, 11-5. HHS is now 15-7 on the season.
Against Fox, the team had 24 hits in a two-run victory. Nine players had multiple hits, but ironically, only one was an extra base hit. “We hit the ball real well again, but gave them too many extra outs with our errors,” said head coach Kevin Lucas. Hillsboro committed five errors in the contest. “Against a very good hitting team like Fox, you can not give them the extra outs because it will hurt, as we found out. If we just make the plays we are supposed to make, then it’s a different game. I am pleased with how we battled and were able to come back. Elly Eckrich had some troubles, but Alex Wick came in and kept us in the game until we could take the lead.”
The Hawks never led in the contest until the bottom of the sixth. They tied the game in the bottom of the first after the Warriors took a 2-0 lead in the top of the inning. A base hit by Amber Cage, and a bases loaded walk to Alanah Dunphy tied it 2-2. But from that point, the Hawks played catch up. They trailed 5-2 after two and a half innings, 5-4 after three innings, and then 11-4 after a six-run top of the fifth. HHS trimmed the lead to 11-9 after scoring five runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth, and then finally went ahead in the sixth.
A bases loaded walk to Bailey Shuman made it a one-run deficit, and then Julz Johnson doubled to center to score two and give the Hawks a 12-11 lead. Another run was added when Ellie Bartlett singled to left to make the final tally, 13-11. Fox got a runner on in the seventh, but Wick closed the door.
“It was a crazy roller coaster game,” Johnson said afterwards. She went three-for-five with four RBI. “We started out with the bats, but we were very flat in the field. The team looked tired when we hit the field, like we weren’t ready. I’m proud of how the team came back so quick and aggressive so we didn’t have to feel another loss. It’s like we have an on and off switch during games that we seem to not be prepared for. Once we’re down, we’re down until one person gets a big hit to score a run or two, and the switch gets flipped back on.”
Along with Johnson, Shuman, Bartlett, Cage, and Nicole Evans each had three hits. Eckrich, Wick, Dunphy and Ryleigh Hindle had two hits each, while Lauren Lalk added one single. Eckrich struggled a bit in the circle, going three and a third innings giving up five runs on five hits. She struck out one and walked four. Wick threw the final three and two thirds innings allowing four earned runs on eight hits. She struck out one and walked one.
Monday was another example of the on-off switch Johnson mentioned. Hillsboro trailed Jefferson 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning. Then they scored 17 runs in the next three innings.
“We got off to a very slow start, but we finally woke up in the fourth and put up six runs,” Lucas mentioned. “Their pitcher had our number early, and we just couldn’t make the adjustments to get something going.” In fact, Hillsboro went 13 plate appearances without a hit. They ended the game with 12 hits. “We finally got her figured out and got things rolling,” Lucas said. “I thought we hit the ball real well from the fourth inning on, but we have to be able to get things started sooner than that. We had little defensive letdowns, but we were able to stop things before it got worse. Elly was more of her usual self this outing, which was nice to see.”
Johnson, Wick, and Hindle had two hits. Both Johnson and Hindle had a double, and both drove in two runs, while Wick had one RBI. The big blow came off Cage’s bat as she hit a three run bomb to end the game in the sixth. Appropriately, Monday was her birthday. Other players who hit safely included Bartlett, Eckrich, Evans, Lalk (double), and Hailey Genge who made her return to the roster after being out with an ACL injury stemming from last winter.
The Hawks were recipients of nine walks and three hit batters from Jefferson pitching. Meanwhile Eckrich went all six innings allowing three earned runs on six hits. She struck out 13 and didn’t walk a batter.
Finally, the Hawks took on Cor Jesu yesterday (Tuesday). Hillsboro just couldn’t get much going, falling behind 6-0 after the third inning. The team cut it to 6-2 in the fifth on back-to-back triples by Bartlett and Cage. Eckrich singled home a run as well. Then in the sixth, a sacrifice fly by Shuman scored Hindle who had tripled, making the score 6-3. But a five-run sixth inning for Cor Jesu made it 11-3. Genge got her second hit of the season in the seventh, driving in both Bartlett and Cage who had each doubled. That brought the final score to 11-5.
There were six extra base hits among the 12 collected by Hillsboro. Bartlett had a single, double, and triple, while Cage added a double and triple. Evans had two hits as well, while Shuman added a double, and Hindle chipped in with a triple. Eckrich, Dunphy, and Genge had one hit apiece.
Wick took the loss in the circle, going the distance while striking out three and walking two.
The Hawks continue a busy week as they host the Seckman Jaguars this afternoon at 4:30 p.m.