The Highland softball team advanced to the region five final Friday night with a 10-2 win over West Branch.
The Huskies will face Iowa City Regina at Iowa City West on Monday for a chance to go to the state tournament.
In the first inning, both teams got one on, but nothing doing, but in the second inning Kassie Vazquez pushed the West Branch defense after reaching on a double she wanted more and made it a triple herself. She scored on the RBI single by Kelsey Hora, who also made her way around to third, but could not get home and Highland led 1-0.
In the third the Bears went down in short order, and the second throwing error of the game put Paige Wieland on, but again was stranded. In the fourth inning both teams would add a pair of runs, for Highland a couple of singles from Vazquez and Hora both came home to score off an error, and passed balls, and for West Branch Shannon Laing hit a solo shot over the left field wall, where she tried all night to hit it to, and then a single by Mary Baldwin and a throwing error would bring her home to make the score 3-2.
That was the end of the offense by West Branch, as Katie Springer shut things down for them, facing 11 batters in the last three innings.
The Highland offense wasn’t done though, as they put up three more runs in the sixth off a two RBI single from Bridget Murphy, and an RBI double from Courtnee Hahn to give Highland a 6-2 lead, but that still wasn’t enough. In the seventh inning, the Huskies started with a solo shot from Morgan Craig, and then West Branch got two outs, before a double by Jordan Rath set up the two run shot by Cheyann Adamson to make it 9-2, and then a stolen base by Wieland and a RBI single by Murphy made the final 10-2 score.
Highland head coach Carrie Wieland talked after the game about the sluggish start by her offense that turned into an onslaught in the second half.
“It is just adjusting to the pitch, I think that we were too eager, swinging at more pitches, and not being patient. I think we were trying to time the pitcher instead of just waiting and driving, and I think once we started doing that, and everyone started seeing that you could do that we started putting people on base,” Wieland said. “We did a really good job at staying patient, she throws a lot of junk, throws it in the dirt, make your swing at bad pitches, and once we stopped doing that we became more successful, I think their confidence level rose because we were beating them, so let’s just keep beating them a little bit more.”
Springer went seven innings, gave up two runs, both earned off five hits, four strikeouts, two walks and a homerun. Offensively, Bridget Murphy was 3-5 with three RBI’s, and Cheyann Adamson was 1-4 with a homerun, three RBI’s and two runs.
Highland plays against Iowa City Regina Monday for a chance to go to state at Iowa City West.