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Softball: Close, but no cigar
The Tigers suffer a pair of one-run losses
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WONEWOC — A well played game got away from Mike Burch’s Hillsboro softball team Thursday afternoon at Wonewoc–Center.

The host Wolves scored a 6–5 extra inning walk-off victory when the Tigers committed a one-out error with bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.

With both the infielders and outfielders playing in to cut down the potential game-winning run at home, Hillsboro pitcher Lexi Mathis fielded a one hop grounder in the pitching circle and fired home for the second out.

The play had the makings of a tailor-made double play and it appeared that Hillsboro was going to escape the threat.

However, senior catcher Morgan Rynes dropped the throw from Mathis and the winning run scored.

“Outside of the cool temperatures, this was one of the most enjoyable games that I have been a part of,” said Burch. “Both teams played very well. It was far and away the best performance that we have had out of a pitcher this year.

Mathis threw 8 1/3 innings and gave up just five earned runs on five hits and four walks.

“Every game has been a huge improvement from our pitchers,” added Burch.

Wonewoc–Center (3–3, 2–2 SBC) scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning on two hits and two walks, but Mathis really settled in after that allowing just three hits in the final seven-plus innings.

Sophomore Destiny Shore was busy in the final innings as she recorded seven of the last nine outs defensively at her shortstop position.

Hillsboro scored a run in the first, two in the third, one in the fifth and one in the sixth to tied the game at 5–5, but never did lead in the game after the top of the first inning.

Senior Kelsey Skala went 3-for-5 to lead the Tigers in defeat.

“We tried some new wrinkles offensively in this game. We had a few girls attempt drag bunts and left handed slap hits for their first times ever,” said Burch. “Although the execution was little off in this game, I believe that with a little more experience, the game plan will work and more girls will be getting on base. I am pretty confident that if our pitchers can hold a team to five runs in seven innings, we are going to win those games down the stretch.

“We had seven girls starting in positions in this game that at the beginning of the season had never started before. If these girls keep making the giant steps that they have been, by the end of the season Hillsboro may be very hard to beat.”

Monday night Hillsboro fell to 2–7 on the season and 1–5 in the Scenic Bluffs with a sloppy 7–6 loss at Brookwood.

The Tigers managed just four hits in the loss, but did grab an early 3–0 lead in the top of the second inning without getting a single hit thanks to a trio of Brookwood errors.

Hillsboro returned the favor a half inning later as the Falcons scored five on just two hits in the bottom of the second.

The Tigers tied the game with two runs in the fifth and took a brief 6–5 lead with a run i the top of the sixth.

But a single by Madrigal and a double by Hansen, compounded by a Hillsboro error in the bottom of the sixth allowed Brookwood to score two runs and take regain a one run lead which held up when Hillsboro stranded the tying run at second base in the seventh.

“Neither team came ready to play Monday night,” said Burch. “I mentioned on Thursday night at Wonewoc that neither team deserved to lose. Well on Monday at Brookwood, neither team deserved to win. Like [Hillsboro baseball] coach Bob Bothe said a couple of weeks ago, it was little league bad! Both teams committed four errors that show up in the score book, but those errors were compounded by mental errors as well.”

Hillsboro is scheduled to host New Lisbon in a SBC doubleheader today. Friday the Tigers will travel to Wonewoc–Center for a rematch with the Wolves before traveling to Bangor for another doubleheader on Monday.