Sunday, May 27, 2018
Region Tournament Draws Go Fine For Bluebird Baseball, Softball
But based on records, match-ups among other teams, teams hope to receive the best possibility of advancing past the region quarterfinals. On Saturday, the Highlands baseball team received a good draw and the softball team did not receive the best draw, but it may be a good thing. Both teams drew the latest start time Memorial Day.
The Highlands baseball team (23-13 overall) is looking for its fourth straight region championship. The Bluebirds put up another respectable region record going 16-3 against region opponents including a perfect 6-0 in 36th District action. Highlands has won seven straight district championships and has not lost to a district opponent since 2012.
Highlands drew Dixie Heights (11-19) for the 7 p.m. game Monday at University of Cincinnati Medical Center Ballpark in Florence. The Bluebirds beat the red Colonels, 10-3 back on April 10 in Fort Thomas. The Bluebirds run-ruled both opponents in the district tournament. Led by 10 seniors, Highlands hopes to keep up that momentum in the region tournament.
"We have been playing with a little more urgency thus far," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "Hitters are taking a more aggressive approach at the plate and pitchers are challenging hitters a little more frequently. Having each others' back is important to this group of guys."
Overall, Highlands finished 10-3 against the region field. Their three losses came twice to 35th District champion Covington Catholic (24-10) and 33rd District champion Cooper (20-12). But the Bluebirds did come back to record victories against both later in the season.
The Highlands softball team (18-10) also won its fourth 36th District crown in five seasons. But the Bluebirds struggled to put away the Dayton Lady Devils in the title game. They led 10-2 entering the top of the seventh. Dayton scored five runs before sophomore left fielder Piper Macke snagged a fly ball to end the game.
Of the three possible draws, Highlands drew the team with the best record in Boone County (15-11) for the 5 p.m. game at Newport's Veterans Memorial Park. The Bluebirds beat the Lady Rebels, 10-9 in Fort Thomas on March 31. But Highlands generally does not overlook the Lady Rebels.
"(The Lady Rebels) have great pitching," said Rob Coffey, Highlands Head Coach. "However, we will be ready for her. The girls understand the rest of the season is one and done. You lose and it's all over. So we have nine seniors that we are counting on to keep us focused."
Highlands went 13-1 in region play this season losing just to Ryle, 14-4 in five innings on May 11. The Bluebirds went 6-1 against the field. They did not get to play St. Henry because of the poor weather early in the season.
Highlands won the region tournament in 2014 and 2016. The Bluebirds also made the region title game in 2015, but lost 5-1 to Dixie Heights in the region quarterfinals last year.
The region semifinals will both play Tuesday and the championship games take place Thursday barring rain.