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HHS softball earns DH sweep

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

As good as junior Hannah Hearld is in the circle for the Hays High School softball team, her dominance can sometimes make the defense behind her a little complacent. When this happens, the Indians can find themselves in a much closer game than they should be.

"I think we have a tendency, while Hannah keeps the batters off balance and pretty quiet at the plate, it almost lulls our defense to sleep," Hays High softball coach Abby Maska said. "We can't pin everything on Hannah's arm. We've got to be ready behind her and that's pretty much what I said, and the girls responded well."

This is exactly how Hays High's doubleheader played out on Tuesday against Colby High School at the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex. After rolling to an 11-0 win in Game 1 behind Hearld's arm, the Indians came out slow in Game 2.

Leading 3-1 entering the sixth inning, it was Hays High's unassertive defense that allowed the Eagles to get two runs and tie the game at 3. Maska brought the team together at that moment for what can only be described as a pep talk, with the message received loud and clear.

Hays High (7-1) came back with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and shut the door on Colby in the seventh to pull out the doubleheader sweep with a 7-3 win.

"Because we were playing timid we let them back into the game. We've been telling them all season that we have got to play with confidence. We can't play fearful and we got to be the aggressor in games," Maska said. "We weren't concerned as a coaching staff that we were going to give that game away, but playing like that is going to come back and bite us when we get late into the season when everyone is playing at the top of their game."

Hearld, who pitched every inning in the doubleheader, allowed five hits and two earned runs with 10 strikeouts in Game 2 against Colby. The Hays High offense tallied 13 hits with four players recording at least two.

Game 1 was a rout from the beginning, with Hays High leading 4-0 after an inning and 9-0 after two, leading to the 11-0 run-rule win in five innings. The Indians outhit Colby 11-2, with Hearld recording nine strikeouts in the shutout.

Senior catcher Haley Wells recorded three runs and three RBI in three plate appearances to lead the Indians.

"The first game I thought they weren't as aggressive early as I would have liked to seen, but by the second and third inning we were hitting our stride on offense," Maska said. Hannah was pretty untouchable, so we were able to build a pretty significant lead early and sustain it to close it out in five."

"We are trying to get Hannah more innings just because there are going to be times where we need her to throw a complete doubleheader. That wasn't exactly the plan for tonight, but her pitch count was pretty low. She struck out a lot of batters on just three pitches. So we thought we would ride her out through the doubleheader."

The Indians are back in action Thursday with a home doubleheader against Pratt beginning at 4 p.m. The game is a makeup from April 3 that was pushed back due to weather.