On paper, Cardington’s Friday home softball game against Highland looked to be an epic matchup, as the Scots were perfect in league play, while Cardington only held one loss.
A sloppy performance by Highland combined with a great night at the plate for the Pirates changed all of that, though, as Cardington erupted for 22 runs in claiming a five-inning shutout of their guests.
“We told them tonight to play like this is a tournament game,” said Pirate coach Tod Brininger. “They’ve (Highland) had a great season so far. We haven’t’ hit consistently this year tonight, but tonight, we put it all together. Our nine-hitter hit two home runs.”
That hitter, Allie Moore, not only hit two home runs, but hit them both in the same inning — a 12-run fourth frame that essentially ended the contest. Early in the inning, she popped a two-run homer and then, later on, smacked a three-run blast. The team also got a three-run homer from Baylee Adams in the third inning, as she and Moore combined for 12 RBIs in the game.
For Highland coach Shelly Hornsby, the game came down to nerves. She noted that the Lady Scots have never won a league title and knew they were in a crucial KMAC contest and simply let their nerves get the best of them.
“The girls were just too anxious and nervous,” she said. “We’ve never won a championship and nerves got to them tonight. We’ve never had that many errors in a game ever and couldn’t get our offense going.”
The score was 6-0 in favor of the Pirates after two innings, but the Scots likely felt they could have been much closer with cleaner play. After a one-out triple by Kierson George, Adams hit a ground ball and George scored after an errant throw got by the first baseman. Then, with two outs, the team couldn’t get the third until after Rylie Partlow drove in Adams with a double.
In the second inning, Taiylor Hubley reached base on an infield hit, but the Scots were able to get two outs. However, five straight batters reached base for the Pirates, who got an RBI single from George and Adams’ three-run blast.
Cardington tallied four more runs in the third to go up 10-0. Moore, Brooklyn Whitt and Adams all drove in runs, while another scored on a Scot balk. Brininger noted that his team put together a complete performance with everyone contributing.
“I can’t say enough about all the girls, even the ones who didn’t play,” he said. “They were very loud and excited and we needed that. Hopefully, we’ll build on it. We hit the ball tonight and hopefully, we’ll keep that up and keep the momentum going.”
They were able to keep the momentum going against the Scots with a 12-run fourth inning that was highlighted by Moore’s two home runs, as well as a two-run double by pitcher Casey Bertke. Bertke also did well on the mound, holding the Scots to only four hits, while striking out four.
“She had a lot of first-pitch swinging outs,” said Brininger. “Our defense struggled early in the year, but they played a heck of a game.”
Hubley finished with four hits for Cardington, while Moore, Bertke and Adams all had three and Whitt, George and Partlow had two each. For the Scots, Haven Farson tallied a pair of hits to lead their effort.
Hornsby said that her team simply has to put this game behind them and prepare for a busy week that will include her team’s rematch with the Pirates — this time on Highland’s home field.
“We just need to work together and put our strengths back in place,” she said. “We have to play the way we know how to play.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS