For the second straight game, a bad break kept the Hillsboro softball game from a chance at a win as the Lady Hiltoppers fell to Pana 7-2 on Monday, May 10.
Monday’s contest at the Hillsboro Sports Complex would be a run one game after the first three innings, with Pana scoring twice in the first and Hillsboro cutting the lead in half in the third. The Toppers’ run would come after Taelyn Smith doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Haley Major and scored on an RBI base hit by Aubrey Evans.
The difference making at-bat came in the fourth inning, with Grace Sims at the plate for the Panthers with one out.
The inning started with a strikeout by Hillsboro starter Taelyn Smith, but Olivia Anderson walked and went to second on a passed ball. Smith would strike out Bre Stalets, but the Pana center fielder reached first on a dropped third strike, which also allowed Anderson to move to third.
Anderson would cross the plate soon after when the Toppers tried to get Stalets out on a steal of second that allowed the Panther right fielder to scamper home. A walk to leadoff hitter Brianna Sarver would put runners on first and third (Stalets moved up on a passed ball) and would bring up Sims with a 3-1 Pana lead.
The Panther second baseman hit a sharp ground ball back up the middle, with it ricocheting off the leg of Smith, who dropped in pain.
With the infield stunned by Smith’s injury, Stalets came around to score, as did Sarver, who was on a dead sprint around the bases to score from first.
The play not only upped Pana’s run total to five, but it also removed Smith from the mound, the second straight game she had to leave early. In last Thursday’s game, Hillsboro was up 5-1 on Roxana before arm issues forced the sophomore hurler out of the contest.
Meagan Jorn would come on in relief of Smith and got a unique double play against the first batter she faced as Kiley Ladage hit a sharp liner to Aubrey Evans in center field that Evans caught and threw to Haley Major at second base to double off Sims.
The pitcher’s best friend ended the Pana rally, but the damage was done as the Toppers were minus their ace and now down 5-1.
Jorn would pitch well in relief, giving up just four hits in the final 3.2 innings, but Pana would add a pair of insurance runs in the top of the sixth.
Hillsboro would get one run back in the seventh when Haley Major doubled and scored two batters later, but Ladage, Pana’s starting pitcher, would get out of further trouble and close out the five-run win.
The loss dropped Hillsboro to 1-7 on the season, but the Toppers nearly equaled Pana’s offensive output, with the Panthers outhitting Hillsboro 9-8.
Sophia Blankenship had two hits for the Toppers, with Taelyn Smith and Haley Major adding doubles. Aubrey Evans, Summer Smith, Erin Moore and Aly Devore also had singles for Hillsboro.
The Toppers will look to change their luck this Thursday, May 13, when they travel to Staunton, followed by a home game against Rochester on May 14 and a date with Lincolnwood in Raymond on May 15.
May 10 at Hillsboro
Pana 200 302 0 7 9 2
Hillsboro 001 000 1 2 8 2
Pana IP R ER H K BB
Ladage 7 2 2 8 9 3
*Ladage 1 HBP
Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB
T. Smith 3.1 5 5 5 4 4
Jorn 3.2 2 2 4 1 1
Multiple Hits: Pana - Brianna Sarver 2-3, Bre Stalets 2-3, Breanna Houseman 2-3; Hillsboro - Sophia Blankenship 2-3. 2B: Hillsboro - Taelyn Smith 1, Haley Major 1. Runs: Hillsboro - Taelyn Smith 1, Haley Major 1. RBI: Hillsboro - Aubrey Evans 1.
Record: Hillsboro (1-7).