|Bluebirds Softball Completes 4-0 Run in 36th District Seed Play|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Maleah Abner takes a swing in a recent game.|
Highlands (16-10 overall) took care of the Dayton Lady Devils, 12-2 in five innings earning a convincing top seed in the 36th District at 4-0 in seed play. Highlands outscored the four district opponents, 49-5. The Bluebirds also finished 11-1 in 9th Region action.
Highlands outhit Dayton (9-7), 15-4. Bluebird seventh grade pitcher Kennedy Baioni and Dayton pitcher Tatum Turner both threw complete games. Baioni struck out one, walked three and hit one batter. Turner walked three, struck out none and hit no batters.
"The rain threatened this one a little bit so we wanted to make sure we get it in," said Rob Coffey, Highlands Head Coach. "We're in all-business mode right now getting ready for the district. It took us a while to hit. We've been hitting really good, fast pitchers recently. (Turner) threw strikes, but she was a little bit slower so our timing was off the first couple innings. We finally started to time her up a little bit and hit the ball hard. The pitching was good. We played pretty solid defense and we're happy to get out of there with a win."
Dayton had two errors to none for Highlands. All but two Bluebirds runs were earned. Sophomore Lacy Nickell led Dayton with one RBI on one hit.
Junior Rachel Gabbard led Highlands going 4-for-4 including two doubles and three runs batted in. Senior Liz Mairose had two hits including a triple and three RBI. Seventh grader Addie Mack added two hits and an RBI and seventh grader Anna Greenwell had two hits including a double. Senior Brooke Dill had one single and one RBI with senior Josie Daley batting in two on one hit and junior Morgan Coffey had two RBI.
"We all come in pretty hyped and wanted to win (Wednesday) because it was our last home game," said Caroline Class, Highlands freshman. "We try to improve every at-bat. If you were in there for yourself and weren't going to help the team, (Coach Coffey) wasn't going to play you."
Highlands pulled away with five runs in the second inning. The Bluebirds put the game away with four in the fifth.
The district tournament starts Monday. The host is Newport Central Catholic.
Highlands 13, Cooper 2:
The Bluebirds (21-12) avenged a loss to the Jaguars (17-12) on Saturday with a win in Union.
Junior Steven Grimme pitched into the sixth inning picking up the win for the Bluebirds. He struck out five, walked two, allowed seven hits and two earned runs. Junior Tanner Juett pitched the final four outs. The Bluebirds played error-free defense behind them while Cooper committed two. Juett did not allow any walks or hits.
"Our defense came up huge even though the field had very thick grass so it slowed the ground balls down," Grimme said. "The pitching was able to pound the strike zone and made the Cooper hitters put the ball in play and our defense made the plays. Everyone on defense was very active."
Highlands scored three runs off Cooper senior starting pitcher Brendon Reid in the top of the third. Reid struck out three and allowed five hits, three earned runs and walked two before Cooper used three innings over the last four innings. The Bluebirds led 4-2 before scoring nine in the top of the seventh.
"Cooper threw a couple of its better arms at least early on," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "So it was good to see guys put really good at-bats on those guys. We put some really good at-bats together early and put some great at-bats together late, hit a lot of balls really hard. We found a hole or found a gap. I think our approaches the last couple weeks as a whole have gotten better particularly with two strikes. It's something that we needed to work on."
Highlands seniors Joe Steiden and Tyler Gulley again led the Bluebirds. Steiden went 3-for-4 with a double, one stolen base, one walk, two runs batted in and three runs scored. Gulley went 3-for-4 with three RBI. Senior Carson Fitters went 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI, one walk and one run scored and junior Bryce Ziegler went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Junior Casey Greene and sophomore Ethan Kavanagh both scored twice and Kavanagh tripled.
Highlands took advantage of six Cooper walks. Ziegler and Kavanagh walked twice to lead the Bluebirds.
Senior Nathan Sowder and Braydon Runion had two hits each to lead Cooper. Sowder batted one in and Runion scored one run.
Highlands plays host to Conner on Friday. Game time is 5 p.m.