A huge second inning put the Highland softball players well on their way to advancing to this week’s district semifinals.
Leading 1-0 going into the second frame against visiting Olentangy Berlin, the Scots put six runs on the board to take a commanding lead. They would add three more in the third and then made that 10-0 lead hold up through the fifth inning to claim the decision.
“I’ve been really pleased with how the girls have been working in practice said head coach Shelly Hornsby. “We’ve really come together with batting in the last part of the season. I think it’s really clicked with them as far as what needs to be done.”
A Savannah Fitzpatrick single set the tone for the Lady Scots in the opening inning. She took second on a passed ball and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Liz Jensen, to be driven in by a ground ball hit by Morgan Wilhelm.
Good defense kept Highland in the lead going into the bottom of the second. With a runner on second and two outs, Berlin was able to get a single, but the Scots got a great throw from outfield to home plate to nail the runner before she could reach home.
“It always makes you relax a little bit more when you get a big defensive play to end the inning,” said Hornsby. “Then, when you get some runs, it’s easy to relax a bit and do what you need to do.”
And Highland got plenty of runs in their half of the second. Mattie Ruehrmund drew a walk to open the inning and moved to third after Brooklyn Geiger smacked a double. A single by pitcher Lucy Smith drove in a run and put runners at the corners. Smith was replaced by a courtesy runner and the team immediately performed a run-scoring double steal to make it 3-0. Gena West grounded out for the first out of the inning, but brought a run across the plate in the process.
Highland wasn’t done scoring, though. Back at the top of the order, Fitzpatrick cracked a double and stole third base. A Jensen single drove her in. Two batters later, Haven Farson blasted a two-run homer to put the Scots up 7-0.
The team continued pouring it on in the third inning. Fitzpatrick drove in West and herself with a two-run blast and, after a Jensen double, Farson got another RBI with a run-scoring single.
Those 10 runs were far more than Smith needed to nail down the win. Over five innings, she only gave up three hits and a walk, while striking out one.
“I never seem to give her enough credit,” said Hornsby of her senior pitcher. “Lucy’s pitched for me for three years. I think she does a phenomenal job and her leadership is a positive impact for the team.”
The Scot offense cracked 14 hits over their four innings at the plate. Both Fitzpatrick and Farson finished with a home run, double and single; while Jensen had a double and single and Smith added two singles. Geiger and West both added doubles.
“We’ve changed some things with our batting,” said Hornsby. “I think it’s really been a positive change in our hitting and the girls have taken well to that. We’ve had a couple of our better hitters have moments at the beginning of the season and now they’re turning it on late in the season — it’s a good time to get hot.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS