Bluebirds Run Winning Streak over NewCath to 12 Games
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands sophomore Jacob Gulley fires to the plate in the 7-1 win over Newport Central Catholic on Monday.|
"I didn't even know we were 12-0 in the series to be honest," said Ethan Kavanagh, Highlands junior shortstop. "We just come out and play hard every single day. (Newport Central Catholic) is just another opponent that we have to beat. It's a big game in the season. We come come out playing the game like we always do."
Highlands ran its winning streak to that many wins in a row over the Thoroughbreds (8-10) with a 7-1 win at Highland Park. The Bluebirds moved to 3-0 in 36th District play with their 39th straight win over district opponents and 7-0 in region play. NewCath was the last district team to beat Highlands, 3-1 in the region championship on May 31, 2012.
Highlands has won 12 in a row on its way to four consecutive region championships. The Bluebirds have finished state runner-up in 2015 and last year during that run.
NewCath batted just .136 (3-for-22) in the game. Highlands seniors Grady Cramer (4-1) and Steven Grimme threw two innings before sophomore Jacob Gulley threw the final three. The three combined to strike out 11 and walk four.
The Thoroughbreds scored their lone run in the top of the sixth inning. Senior left fielder Casey Greene made a diving catch in that inning for Highlands.
Highlands scored three runs in each of the first two inning to go up 6-0. The Bluebirds added another run in the fourth.
Highlands went 7-for-25 at the plate for a .280 batting average. Senior Bryce Ziegler led Highlands going 2-for-2 with two triples, three runs batted in and a run scored. Kavanagh and senior Cooper Schwalbach also had triples. Kavanagh also had two stolen bases.
"We got off to a fast start with some good approaches," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "We were aggressive early on. I'd have liked to keep that up in the middle innings. But still, we had four straight days off. We know coming in with four days of not seeing live pitching, we're not going to be in rhythm offensively as much as we are. But it was enough."
Highlands had seven stolen bases total to none for NewCath. Senior Chris Bridwell led the way with three with Greene and junior Nate Gesenhues swiping one each.
The Bluebirds once again did a great job making the routine plays committing no errors. NewCath committed three.
"When we make the routine plays, it helps out the pitcher a lot," said Kyle Winkler, Highlands senior. "It helps keep the pitch count low so they can go more innings. Communication is important because if you don't communicate, those easy plays can turn into errors or more runs."
Highlands plays at Bishop Brossart on Wednesday. Game time is 5 p.m.
Highlands 10, Pendleton County 5:
The Bluebirds (4-4) moved back to .500 with the non-region win at Winkler Field.
Highlands scored four runs in the first inning then added at least one in the next five. The Bluebirds outhit the 12-4 LadyCats, 12-9.
"We've talked in the past about adjustments. I really think that's what our girls are starting to do," said Rob Coffey, Highlands Head Coach. "They're really buying in and understanding the adjustments."
Neither team had any extra-base hits. Highlands saw freshman Anna Greenwell, senior Rachel Gabbard, sophomore Brianna Tharps, sophomore Caroline Class and eighth grader Kennedy Baioni record two hits each.
Class had four runs batted in with Gabbard and freshman Gracie Schlosser batting in two each. Tharps and Greenwell scored three times and junior Abby Rust scored twice.
"Having the three (straight) wins has been beneficial because I feel like we as a team are getting much, much stronger and having faith in ourselves," Tharps said. "Not only personally but as a team, we definitely are working a lot harder to come back from several losses at the beginning of the year. It's definitely paying off. That's for sure."
Baioni threw the complete game to move to 3-3 on the season. Baioni struck out five, walked one and allowed four earned runs.
Highlands took advantage of five Pendleton County errors. The LadyCats had two.
"Without those two errors, I think they probably would have only scored two, three runs," Coffey said. "We gave them a couple runs. One was a flat-out dropped fly ball that ended up being a double and scoring. It would have been the first out of the inning. I'm not concerned at this point in the season. With the seniors we had leave and transfer, we had a couple holes we knew we had to fill defensively. It's more about executing defensively and being comfortable. Most of these teams have played a lot of games. We're still light on games and it's different to be in practice than be in a game situation and execute. Some of our girls need more game experience. We see it getting better. Early in the season, we mix a lot of girls into different spots. We do that on purpose so we can be as flexible as we can down the road. Sometimes, that costs us early runs in early games because of the flexibility and depth that we're trying to build for the season. But we understand that. We know that if an error costs us early in the season, it will make up for it down the road with the flexibility that we develop."
Pendleton County eighth grade pitcher Kaylee Bruener also threw a complete game. She struck out two, walked two and allowed six earned runs. She also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a run scored to lead the LadyCats.
Highlands plays host to Loveland (Ohio) on Tuesday. Game time is 5 p.m.
Highlands 3, Cincinnati (Ohio) Anderson 2:
The Bluebirds (10-1) have won eight in a row with the road win. Peter Laskey won the first singles in three, 5-7, 6-0, 10-8.
Highlands plays at Ryle on Tuesday. Game time is 4 p.m.