|Highlands Baseball, Softball Teams Record Non-Region Wins|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior Rachel Gabbard (55) lays off the pitch in a recent game.|
Highlands batted an amazing .581 going 25-for-43 and striking out just once. Junior Abby Rust went 4-for-5 with a double and four runs scored with junior Piper Macke going 4-for-5 with five runs batted in and a run scored.
"We knew that our team could hit and we were really struggling finishing innings," said Rob Coffey, Highlands Head Coach. "Up until this point, we were leaving a lot of girls on base. We had been hitting the ball all year. We've changed some things in practice and we're helping the girls understand counts, instincts in the box, what girls are doing, what patterns they're throwing and things like that. We've really, really worked on those types of things so we can help get the ball in play. We were striking out way too much. Now we're getting the ball in play and we're finishing innings. We had some girls we knew could hit who were in a bit of a slump. They're starting to come out and the other girls are still hitting. We know we can score a lot of runs if we hit as a team. It all came together (Tuesday) thank goodness."
Eight Bluebirds had at least two hits. Senior Rachel Gabbard went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI and three runs scored and freshman Gracie Schlosser went 3-for-5 with a double, four RBI and two runs scored. Sophomore Caroline Class went 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored and eighth grader Kennedy Baioni went 3-for-4. Gabbard leads Highlands with a .565 batting average and two doubles.
Junior Kerigan Bailey went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI for the Bluebirds. Junior Michaela Brown went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
"Making just those tiny adjustments are huge at the plate because they can make a difference between a line drive in the gap and a dribbler to the shortstop," Rust said. "It's huge with hand-eye coordination because as soon as you pull your head, your bat head is going to drop. Your hands are going to drop. As long as you keep your head in, just watch the ball and you make sure your hands are level, it's the difference between popping one up and getting a really solid hit that can help the team."
Baioni (1-3) pitched the six innings for the complete game for Highlands. She struck out five and walked two. Both teams committed one error each.
"We tried a few things. We had girls in different spots," Coffey said. "The first inning was a little shaky. They had four of their seven runs in the first inning after we had many opportunities to get them out. We didn't execute some things. After that, we locked it down and played solid. Their other runs were shots and earned."
Highlands plays host to Newport Central Catholic (6-8) in a 36th District battle on Wednesday. Game time is 5 p.m.
Highlands 10, Scott 3:
The Bluebirds (13-4 overall) erased an early 1-0 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the third in the error-free non-region win over the Eagles (6-8).
"Again, we did those little things correct," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "We had great approaches at the plate. You don't (have 15 hits) unless you take great approaches. It's tough to keep a team to three runs or less if you aren't making the routine plays. We trusted our defense. We threw some runners out when they put the ball in play and went for extra bases. We stayed fundamentally sound and helped finish some innings where big innings could have been a bit bigger if we don't get those outs."
Seniors Cooper Schwalbach and Trent Johnson hit their second home runs of the season to start the rally in the fourth. Schwalbach went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in and two runs scored with Johnson scoring twice. Schwalbach leads Highlands with a .442 batting average.
Highlands batted .454 (15-for-33) in the victory. Junior Mason Schwalbach went 4-for-4 with his third and fourth doubles of the season to go with two RBI and a run scored.
Senior Bryce Ziegler also doubled for the first time and senior Grady Cramer tripled for the first time this year. Ziegler went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Senior Trey Gabbard went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored with junior Nate Gesenhues going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Sophomore Jacob Gulley (3-2) threw five innings to pick up the win. He struck out five and walked three. Senior Steven Grimme threw the last two innings striking out three and walking two to earn his first save of the year.
"Going out there, I know all I have to do is throw strikes," Gulley said. "I have a great team behind me to make plays. It's really nice knowing my teammates have my back and I don't have to do everything myself."
Highlands plays a 36th District contest at Newport (5-13) on Wednesday. Game time is 5 p.m.