Allison Aleshire pitched well enough to get a victory in Hiland’s Div. IV sectional opener against Shenandoah (15-10) Saturday, May 9 in Strasburg.
Unfortunately, a rough fifth inning and perhaps more importantly, opposing pitcher Jenna Cowgill were too much for Hiland to overcome, as the Lady Hawks dropped a 5-1 decision and ended their tournament bid early.
Cowgill scattered four hits, allowing only two Kelsey Mast singles through the first six innings, giving up a lone tally in the seventh.
Meanwhile Aleshire was hurling what her coached said was the best performance of her season, matching Cowgill in the hit parade by allowing only four. Neither player walked a batter either, and Cowgill struck out nine compared to Aleshire’s five.
However, almost every runner that the Lady Zeps put on base came around to score, including three of them scoring on passed balls and wild pitches.
“That’s the best I’ve seen Ally throw in the last couple of weeks,” said Glasener. “She was throwing the way we wanted her to throw. Unfortunately our bats were silent today, and we never gave her any kind of support.”
The Lady Zeps took the lead in the second inning when a one-out hit came around to score on a passed ball with two outs.
Hiland would spend the rest of the contest playing catch-up.
Aleshire and Cowgill went toe-to-toe through the next three innings, neither one budging, neither giving an inch, neither team able to muster any kind of offense.
That would be, until the bottom of the fifth, when Shenandoah finally was able to scrape together some insurance.
A lead-off single, a hit batter and a fielder’s choice on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases with nobody out. A second passed ball resulted in the game’s second run, and Aleshire bore down, getting the next two hitters on strikeouts. It appeared as though she might pull a Houdini and escape any major damage, but Jess Long lined a bullet through the hole at short to plate runs three and four.
Shenandoah would score another single tally in the sixth, this time off a wild pitch, and took a 5-0 lead into the final inning.
“We gave up too many silly runs where we didn’t make them earn them,” said Glasener. “(Cowgill) used her change-up a lot and kept the ball out over the outside corner all game ,and we never really made any adjustments.”
Hiland’s bats finally awoke, as Aleshire lined a hit off the shortstop’s glove, Megan Kandel reached on an error and Lindsey Yoder dumped a short fly ball base hit into right field to load the bases. A wild pitch scored the Lady Hawks’ lone run, Cowgill getting Hayley Schrock to pop out and Mikayla Ryan to strike out to end the game and the tournament trail for Hiland.
“I though overall we played well, with the exception of losing our focus a little bit in the last inning,” said Shenandoah head coach Stacey Trenner. “But give Hiland credit, they played hard until the very end.”
Trenner enjoyed watching his star pitcher go through the Hiland line-up quickly, and even said he admired watching Aleshire work well throughout the game.
He noted that that kind of effort makes for fun games to play and watch, adding that when Cowgill is on like that and hitting her spots, he likes his team’s chances.
“She’s been pitching extremely well, and if we can limit their runs, it gives us a chance to scratch out some runs and win games,” said Trenner of Cowgill. “This game is all about pitching, and we had two good ones going today.”
Cowgill’s performance wasn’t anything new. The Lady Zeps hurler boasts a 1.30 earned run average, and her ability to nibble at the corners, utilize a nice change-up and overpower a number of Hiland hitters made her a winner in this one.
“I felt good today for some reason,” said Cowgill. “I just felt amazing, and I knew my teammates had my back in the field.”
The loss drops Hiland’s record to 5-14 on the season, and Hiland still has four games remaining on their schedule.
“It was a disappointing game, because Ally gave us a great outing and gave us a chance to win,” said Glasener.