They are off the snide. The monkey is off their back. They broke through to the other side.
No matter how you phrase it, the Hiland Lady Hawks softball team finally broke through in the win column and did so in a huge way, dismantling Kidron Central Christian 22-1.
Hiland traveled to Kidron on Saturday, April 14 and came out of the blocks swinging. The Lady Hawks didn’t stop swinging until they had compiled a monstrous number of hits and runs, their 18 hits and 22 runs easily season highs. Not only that, the lone tally they let cross home plate was a breath of fresh air for Jason Hazen’s crew, which has allowed its fair share of unearned runs this season.
“It feels great to finally get one,” Hazen said of the victory, and he didn’t care if it came by one run or 100 runs as long as his team felt the joy of leaving the field with a W intact.
Hiland stormed out of the gate from the start. With one out, Britt Troyer singled and stole second and raced home on Hannah Gerber’s double. Brynley McVicker singled, and Lexi Kline drew a walk. Nikole Keim singled in a pair, Amber Yoder walked and Cheyanne Schrock singled in another run. After yet another free pass, lead-off hitter Sara Keim singled home two and came around to score on two walks and a passed ball. Hiland led 9-0.
After a quick defensive inning, Hiland went right back to work at the plate. Nikole Keim, Amber Yoder and Schrock all singled, Schrock’s driving in a run. Then Natalie Weaver smacked a two-run double, and a Comets’ error made it 13-0.
The third inning provided another three Lady Hawks runs with Kline starting the inning with a single, Nikole Keim following with a double and Yoder drilling a single. Now leading 16-0, the outcome was not in doubt, but Hiland’s bats kept ringing.
The fourth saw Hiland plate four more with three walks, Kline’s single igniting the inning. Weaver added a run-scoring single, as did Sara Keim. The fifth and final inning saw the Lady Hawks add two more tallies, the key hits being McVicker’s single and Nikole Keim’s fourth hit of the game, a double.
“Everything we hit, we hit hard, and more importantly everything that was hit to us in the field, we made plays on, and that was encouraging,” Hazen said. “We have been through some trying times, but we keep working to get better and improve our game. It was just good for us to experience the thrill of winning. Hopefully that feeling continues. We have some good opportunities this week to keep that momentum going.”
Hazen said his team let one slip away a day earlier when the Lady Hawks fell to Conotton Valley 8-4. In that contest, three errors in the second inning opened the door for a five-run Rockets’ inning, and that was pretty much the difference.
“That big, ugly monster called the error arose and bit us pretty hard that inning,” Hazen said. “Other than that, we played a pretty strong game, so it feels like we are heading in a positive direction.”
Hazen said his commitment to working with the youngsters coming up in the program who will soon be Lady Hawks will help turn the fortunes of the program around, and he is determined to make that happen.
Until then he and his team will take each victory and savor it.