RICHLAND CENTER — Saturday afternoon the Hillsboro softball team improved to 4–0 on the season by winning the four-team Richland Center Tournament.
The Tigers defeated the host Hornets, 7–2, behind a excellent pitching performance from junior Lexi Mathis, in the semifinals, then held off Wauzeka–Steuben, 6–5, in the championship game.
“I can’t be any prouder of these girls,” said Hillsboro head coach Mike Burch. “The way they are being aggressive and hitting the ball makes the games so much fun to watch. Our two pitchers, though still giving up a few walks, are keeping opposing batters off balance and are putting us in position for wins. We are solid offensively throughout our line up and I am now expecting a hard hit ball from every single girl that steps to the plate.
“Defensively we have a lot of room for improvement, but I have faith that will come around as well.”
In the win over Richland Center, Mathis struck out eight batters, while allowing just two runs on two hits and two walks in her first pitching performance of the season.
The Hillsboro bats were equally as good.
Brittany Borchardt and Mackenzie Sullivan were both 2 for 3 at the plate. Sullivan homered, as did freshman Sydney Johnson. Shania Landsinger and Morgan Huntley both added doubles in the win.
Mathis (2–0) got the win in relief in the championship game tossing two scoreless innings.
Borchardt starting and allowed five runs on three hits in five innings.
“We watched the Wauzeka senior pitcher dominate the Reedsburg batters in their first game and I believe there was a little doubt in the girls’ minds going into the game,” said Burch. “Destiny Shore erased that doubt right of the bat by lining a single up the middle.”
After a long fly to center off the bat of Sierra Hanke made two outs, Huntley proceeded to belt an RBI double to the gap in left center for first run of the game. Sullivan followed with a single to score Huntley for an early 2–0 lead.
The Tigers scored in each of the first four innings, but shaky defense allowed Wauzeka–Steuben to remain close.
Shore finished 3-for-3, including a triple. Hanke went 2-for-3, Huntley was 2-for-3 with a double, Sullivan was 2-for-3 with a triple and Landsinger finished 2-for-3.
Cashton 10, Hillsboro 3
Monday afternoon Cashton ended Hillsboro’s four-game winning streak, handing the Tigers a 10–3 setback.
Two-time SBC Pitcher of the Year Lindsey Kramer held Hillsboro to just three runs on six hits. She struck out six and walked just one.
“I had a lot of anticipation going into this game because I knew that Cashton would be the team against whom we could measure our improvement,” said Burch. “Facing Kramer last year, we had a total of three hits and scored just one run in those two games.”
Hillsboro trailed 3–2 heading into the fifth inning.
The score was 3-2 heading into the fifth inning in this one, before the Cashton plated five runs to pull away.
Mathis, who had walked just two batters in the first four innings, gave up three singles and two walks before recording an out in the top of the fifth.
The Hillsboro defense compounded the problem with a couple of mental errors and Cashton capitalized to steal all the momentum.
“Lexi pitched the best game of her career on Monday night, striking out nine, while walking just four,” said Burch. “Unfortunately in that fifth inning, things just unraveled a bit for her. If she can continue to throw the way she has in her first two games this season, we are going to have a very good year.”
Mathis went 2-for-3 at the plate, as did Lydia Westedt, to lead the Tigers offense. Johnson hit a double.
“This was a good learning experience for the team,” added Burch. “I think they now realize that they can play toe-to-toe with the best of the conference and I’m sure they are looking forward to the rematch at Cashton on May 7. They also learned that in a game like this, you pay for every single little mistake you make and that we have to keep our focus on every pitch.”
Last Thursday’s SBC game with Bangor was rained out and will be made up May 21.
Hillsboro will travel to Brookwood today and is scheduled to host Wonewoc–Center Monday afternoon.