When the Hiland Lady Hawks hosted the Claymont Mustangs in Inter-Valley Conference South softball action on Wednesday, April 3 at Hiland High School, the Lady Hawks were in a giving spirit.
While that may be great at Christmas time, it is a serious no-no in softball, and 11 errors allowed a very good Claymont team to look that much better as they drilled Hiland 16-3.
“We are not going to win any game where we have 11 errors. It’s that simple,” Hiland head coach Jason Hazen said. “Out of the 16 they scored, I think only two of them were earned, and I’m not saying we would have won the game, but it would have been a heck of a lot more competitive than it was. We just can’t afford to give away runs like we did tonight, and unfortunately we have done that too much so far this year, and it has come back to hurt us.”
Claymont head coach John Dupke said they stress to the girls that they need to take advantage of those gifts and turn them into runs, and an aggressive Mustangs team did just that all night long.
“We want to be aggressive but smart,” Dupke said. “We made a few mistakes, but we did a good job of being aggressive, which you have to do in the IVC because this is a great softball league.”
Claymont stormed out of the gate with a five-run first inning that featured four singles from Allie Edwards, Brooklyn Poland, Regan Brown and Samone Shepherd and a double off the bat of Savanna Morris before Jordan Gibson’s single gave the Mustangs a 5-0 lead.
Nikki Keim gave the Lady Hawks hope by leading off their half with a single, but she made it as far as third base before getting stranded.
Back came Claymont, which posted a three-run second inning. Trinity Hill and Edwards singled and then a host of Hiland errors allowed three unearned runs to score.
Hiland starter Chey Schrock worked through a scoreless third inning and gave up a single tally in the fourth inning, then got herself out of a pickle in the fifth, limiting Claymont to a lone run when she snared a liner back at her and doubled off a runner at second to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Hiland had finally gotten on the board in the fourth when Sarah Custer doubled and scored on Schrock’s single to left.
Claymont then went about putting the game out of reach by plating six runs in the sixth inning. Shepherd and Morris singled, followed by two Hiland errors. Edwards and Poland rocked run-scoring singles, followed by two more errors and singles from Shepherd and Gibson.
Hiland responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Hannah Gerber walked, and Brynn McVicker singled in front of Custer’s second double of the game. Then came a two-out single off the bat of Annie Troyer.
However, it was far too little too late after gifting away so many runs to a talented team.
“We’ve got everyone back from last year, and we have some huge expectations this year,” Dupke said.
For his crew the real question was how was it going to respond one night after getting a monster win over Strasburg, one of Ohio’s supreme softball programs and a team that Dupke said he doesn’t think Claymont has ever defeated.
“We went to their place and got a big win, so I wasn’t sure how we might come into this one and play. I was really pleased with our focus and the mental game we came in with from the start tonight,” Dupke said.
Hiland had its moments at the dish, but Schrock certainly was done no favors on the mound, having to record far too many outs beyond three an inning.
“I thought Sarah Custer played really well tonight. She had two doubles, and Hannah Gerber doubled and singled,” Hazen said. “We were OK at the plate, but we couldn’t string anything together. Most importantly we need to shore up our defense. We have to get better there. We have some young kids in the field, but they are going to have to step up and make plays.”