It’s been an odd year of softball for the Hiland Hawks, one full of improvement and excitement, yet dampened by the youthful mistakes of an inexperienced group. Wednesday night at Malvern was no different, as the Lady Hawks aggressively battled and hit the ball well, but were submarined by their own defensive implosion in a 5-run Hornet first inning of a 10-5 loss.
The game began well for Hiland, as senior Brittany Wengerd led off with a single and eventually scored on an RBI single by Ashley Weaver for a 1-0 lead. But that’s all they would get as Hiland left the bases loaded.
But then came the bottom of the inning, when the Hiland defense hit rock bottom.
The Hornets scored five runs on only two hits and a walk when the Lady Hawks committed a handful of errors to get themselves in a huge hole early.
As head coach Jason Hazen has said all season, his team has no quit in them, and on this night they didn’t disappoint in the effort department. But the coach had no reservations about the cause of the loss on this night.
“One ball left the infield and we had seven errors,” said Hazen of the ugly first inning. “That’s the perfect recipe for losing. If you have seven errors in one inning, you really don’t even deserve to win the game.”
But the Lady Hawks kept coming, and inched closer in the third on an RBI single by Hailey Schrock to make it a 7-2 ballgame, but again, left three stranded with an opportunity to draw even closer to the Hornets. They struck again in the fifth with a pair of runs to draw within 7-4.
“We just couldn’t get the big hits tonight,” said Hazen of the ten base runners they left stranded on the evening. “We need someone in the bottom part of the order to step up and get some hits.”
Malvern would answer the Hiland run in the bottom half of the fifth, plating three runs to bloat the lead back up to 10-4. The Lady Hawks would rally for one in the seventh, but again stranded two to make it a 10-5 final.
“We’ve just been really hot and cold,” said Hazen. “Against Strasburg we don’t make an error, then tonight…it just didn’t look like we were here mentally, and it showed in that first inning.”