3-for-3 with two doubles and Taylor DeCelles was 2-for-3 with a run scored, but it wasn’t enough as Hillgrove fell to River Ridge 2-1 in the season opener Tuesday for both teams.
River Ridge did all of the little things well in taking the victory.
In their first year as a Class AAAA program, the Lady Knights (1-0) played great defense, got timely hitting and had a solid outing from starting pitcher Heather Williams in taking down the sixth-ranked team in Class AAAAAA.
However, the Lady Hawks (0-1) also performed well as pitcher Abby Evans gave up two earned runs on only three hits and struck out 12 in seven innings. Unfortunately, she gave up a one-out home run to Katelyn Brack in the second inning that tied the game at 1-all. She followed up with a lead-off walk to Sara Bennetts in the fourth who later came around to score on Kiley Rediger’s RBI.
Hillgrove left five runners on base and had runners in scoring position in the first, third and sixth innings, but couldn’t bring them home.
“River Ridge is a good team,” first-year Hillgrove coach Laura Voyles said. “They were a good test for us to give us an idea of what we need to work on. We need better communication and not leave runners on when we get them on base.
“It’s a long season and we have 27 regular season games to go. We’ll make the adjustments necessary and get better.”
Hillgrove took a 1-0 lead in the first when DeCelles singled, moved to third on Akins’ double to left and scored on Kathryn Jackson’s one-out, RBI groundout.
Brack answered with her first career homer in the top of the second — a one-out solo shot over the center field wall — and the Lady Knights took the lead two innings later.
After earning the walk in the fourth, Bennetts stole second and later scored on Rediger’s single through the right side. Right fielder DeCelles one-hopped the throw to home, but Bennetts just beat the tag in her slide at the plate to give the Lady Knights the one-run lead.
Williams, who gave up one earned run on five hits and struck out one in a complete game outing, allowed only one hit over her final four innings — a lead-off double to Akins in the sixth — to preserve the win.
Akins was stranded at third in the first and sixth innings, while DeCelles and Akins were left at second and first, respectively, in the third.
Rediger batted 1-for-3 with a RBI and Brack was 1-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored. Bennetts was
0-for-2 with a walk, stolen base and scored a run, while Williams batted 1-for-3.
“A little bit here and a little bit there,” River Ridge coach Scott Bradley said. “I thought a key for us going into the season was going to be our hitting, but it was our defense and pitching that really got us through this game. Hillgrove definitely put the ball in play, but we didn’t have any errors in the field and Heather did a great job out there and put our girls in position to make plays.
“Our (No.) 4 and (No.) 5 hitters struggled, but I don’t want them to panic. Everybody’s just getting into the swing of things and it’s the first game of the season.
“Hillgrove’s a great program. We struggled at the plate, but got it done.”