The Hiland Lady Hawks were looking to compete when they came into Strasburg to face state power Tigers in a softball contest Monday, April 24.
The Tigers were looking to get back into a routine on the heels of a Wendy’s Spring Classic weekend of softball against some of the best teams in the state of Ohio.
The Lady Hawks looked good in the beginning, taking an early lead, but the Tigers eventually got things going and delivered a 10-2 loss to Hiland.
Hiland quickly jumped on Strasburg starter Hannah Duff for two in the first inning. Brittany Weaver was drilled in the elbow by a Huff fastball, and Hannah Gerber followed with a base hit. After the next two Lady Hawks were retired, Ashley Weaver delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single to put Hiland up 2-0.
“We really didn’t come in very focused and ready to play softball,” said Strasburg coach Bud Weisgarber. “We have a tendency to play to the level of the competition, and we were coming off a weekend in which we played some of the top teams in the state,” so it felt like it took us a bit to get back into focusing the way we should.”
Strasburg responded quickly and decisively in the bottom of the inning with three runs to forge a lead they would not relinquish. Emily Rieger and Marli Willoughby drew walks off of Hiland starter Cheyanne Schrock. Tae Alleshouse and Duff were retired but Brynn Coles roped a two-run double and later came in to score on a wild pitch.
At that point Duff settled in nicely, retiring 15 of the next 16 Hiland batters she faced, and she and her teammates would get all of the runs they would need to put this one in the win column in a six-run third.
Alleshouse singled and Duff was hit by a pitch. Back-to-back singles from Coles and Emma Clark plated a pair and Ava Ray laid down a perfect bunt hit. Back-to-back walks plated two more and a Rieger ground-out scored the sixth run.
Strasburg got an unearned run in the fourth when Clark singled after Coles reached on an error. Hiland would mount its only other threat in the seventh. With one out Hayley Schrock singled and Cheyanne Schrock reached courtesy of a catcher’s interference call. Duff got a strikeout before Wengerd lined out to left to end the game.
Wengerd was the one Hiland hitter who figured out Duff, producing quality at bats in all four of her appearances, recording a single and two line outs, while Gerber and Hayley Schrock collected the only other two hits on the day for Hiland.
“Hannah struggled with control and allowed a lot of base runners in that first inning, but once she got settled in she really threw well,” Weisgarber said of his ace.
Coles had a big day for Strasburg, rapping out a pair of hits and scoring three times, while seven of the other Tigers scored single tallies.
While going the full seven against a powerhouse like Strasburg might constitute a moral victory, Hiland coach Jason Hazen isn’t looking for moral victories, but rather actual victories.
“We lost the game,” Hazen said. “That being said, I told the kids after the game that while I’m not satisfied with a loss, that was probably one of our most complete games we played this season against a great program. Today we made no mental errors and were pretty much error free. The hit the ball and we didn’t, but we hung in there and played solid defensively. We still struggle to avoid that one big inning that killed us tonight.”
The Lady Hawks have fallen on hard times lately, having been beaten by around 10 runs in four straight. However, Hazen said that is a product of the scheduling gods, who did them no favors by piling IVC powers Strasburg, Garaway and Sandy Valley in a row, along with a Ridgewood game that Hazen said was perhaps their worst performance of the season.
“This has been a meat grinder, murderer’s row of scheduling,” Hazen said.
Hazen added that he liked the way his team battled against a tough pitcher, and they didn’t back down despite only collecting three hits.
“We just faced Hannah Duff, a pitcher who held Hillsdale to one run in the state semifinals” Hazen said. “I thought we had some good at bats. We jumped on her early, but we never really adjusted to her rise ball. She’s a terrific pitcher, probably one of the best we will face this season.”