|Bluebirds Win 36th District Battles|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior Piper Macke (6) looks to square up a pitch against Newport Central Catholic on Wednesday. Highlands won 13-3 in five innings.|
Highlands (3-4 overall) batted .476 (10-for-21) scoring eight runs in the first inning and run-ruling the 6-9 Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds, 13-3 at Winkler Field. It marked the first 36th District game for the Bluebirds this year.
"It's big for us. As I've mentioned, we're just starting to come around with the bats," said Rob Coffey, Highlands Head Coach. "To keep that rolling and keep that consistent is our message. The girls have really bought into putting the ball in play. They're reaping the benefits now. It makes the game fun, too."
Highlands senior Rachel Gabbard went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs batted in. Eighth grader Kennedy Baioni went 2-for-3 with five RBI and a run scored.
Junior Taylar Lorenzen and junior Abby Rust also had doubles for Highlands. Junior Kerigan Bailey had two RBI with freshman Gracie Schlosser scoring three runs and senior Morgan Coffey and sophomore Caroline Class scoring two runs each.
"Adjustments are a huge part of making the team get so much better," said Piper Macke, Highlands junior. "In the last couple games, I think we've all found out what it takes at the plate, how to adjust to the pitcher and things like that and we're putting up a lot of runs."
Baioni (2-3) threw the first three innings, stuck out seven, allowed two hits and walked one. Schlosser threw the last two inning striking out four and allowing four hits hit.
"It was a really big step. We're still getting our pitching and rhythm all the way back," Schlosser said. "We're putting more people into the rotation so we're getting more people a chance to hit. I'm throwing the ball pretty well. I just need to work on throwing more strikes because I haven't had the reps in practice at all in the winter. I've been throwing strikes in practice."
NewCath did have one home run in the game. But the Bluebird fielders did hustle to balls they could not catch for outs. NewCath had one error to none for Highlands.
"What this group is really good at is buying in and listening to what we do," Coach Coffey said. "Our philosophy on defense has always been to play for four outs. You're always looking for the next out. Even in situations where there are overthrows or to the fence, we're looking for that next out, not just that out that they give us. There are situations where we play four outs to keep them looking for that next out."
Highlands play host to Middletown (Ohio) on Friday. Game time is 5:30 p.m.
Highlands 15, Newport 0:
The Bluebirds (14-4 overall) moved to 2-0 in 36th District action with a convincing win.
"We had some guys step up and take some big swings," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "We needed to be a little bit more disciplined and we kind of got out of our game plan at times, but still grinded it out and did what we needed to do. We took care of business in a district seed game, which is always important."
Senior Grady Cramer started the game throwing the first inning. Junior Luke Weidner picked up the win throwing the final six innings. The two limited the Wildcats to four hits.
Highlands batted .351 (13-for-37) in the win. Junior Mason Schwalbach hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning. Senior Kyle Winkler doubled and homered in the game and senior Steven Grimme had a two-run double.
"The coaches always tell just to go out and don't play to the level of your competition," said Trey Gabbard, Highlands senior. "Just play hard. The seniors try to lead the other guys by example. We keep cheering on everyone else even when we get taken out."
Winkler finished 2-for-5 with seven runs batted in and one run scored. Grimme, Gabbard, Chris Bridewell and Nate Gesenhues each scored twice. Senior Tanner Juett doubled twice and senior Cooper Schwalbach had another.
Highlands plays host to defending state champion Louisville St. Xavier (15-3) on Saturday. Game time is 1 p.m.
Highlands 5, Cooper 0:
Highlands moved to 9-1 on the season. The Bluebirds next play Ryle on April 23 at 4 p.m. in Union.