For the second time this season, the Gillespie softball team (24-6) prevailed against the Hillsboro Hilltoppers. Monday afternoon’s victory was more celebratory though as the team’s fate was at risk, but it was another day of work as Gillespie won their third straight regional title. They advance to play Tri-City in sectionals on Tuesday afternoon in Williamsville.
As guests on the scoreboard Monday afternoon in a rescheduled rainout from Saturday, Hillsboro set the tone early taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning following a leadoff single by Schaake. She was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and Hanner, the third batter of the inning, doubled to give the Hilltoppers an early lead.
“We were hitting the ball pretty solid the first couple innings and we were confident we would pull through,” head coach Michelle Smith said of the Miners trailing.
Hillsboro’s lead held for four innings until Gillespie was able to cross their first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning and take their first lead of the game. Rylee Sarti started the party with a leadoff single and the only hit in the two-run inning. Sydney Henrichs moved Sarti to second and then Gillespie’s Ally Bires and Lexie Bussmann were both walked allowing the Miners their first run on four straight balls pitched by Hanner.
The Miners later took a lead in the inning on a past ball allowing Henrichs to cross the plate.
Gillespie held a 2-1 lead until the sixth inning when Addison Bryant helped her own cause by singling to right field scoring Mackenzie Mix who reached the base path on a walk. The Miners held the 3-1 lead for the victory.
Bryant garnered the win for the team pitching all seven innings, striking out seven and walking one. Gillespie grabbed eight hits at the plate – two from Sarti, two from Rylee Jarman and one from Bryant, Bussmann, Bires and Ally Clay.
“We were really on our players about swinging at better pitches and they did a good job with that,” Smith concluded as she looked ahead to Tuesday’s game. “We will tweak little things when we need to, play solid defense and pick good pitches to swing at.”