After week off, HHS softball earns sweep
By NICK McQUEEN
By NICK McQUEEN
To this point in the 2013 season, games have been few and far between for the Hays High School softball team.
The Indians, who hadn't seen action since April 16 in a doubleheader sweep against Colby, also has not seen the type of pitching they will see later in the season.
Seeing a pair of solid outings from two Larned starters Thursday at Dusty Glassman Ball Park, Hays High was caught a bit off guard, and seemed to struggle to get the bats going.
Still, Hays HIgh managed enough for a 5-0 victory in Game 1, then played small ball in the sixth inning of Game 2 for a come-from-behind 7-5 victory.
"Both of them have thrown a little bit harder than what we've seen," said HHS coach Abby Maska. "It seems like all around on our schedule the pitching just hasn't been what it has been in years past.
Seeing a little bit more speed maybe caught some of our batters off guard."
In Game 1, Hays High didn't need much against the visiting Indians. Freshman Madison Prough gave the Indians a boost with her consistent pitching. Prough (6-3) threw a four-hit shutout with four strikeouts and two walks to 27 batters.
"She had a great outing," Maska said of Prough, the Indians' ace after an offseason ACL injury to would-be-ace Hannah Hearld. "It's reminiscent of what she was able to do agianst Dodge a couple weeks ago.
"She throws really well at home," Maska added. "I'm sure she's comfortable on the mound since we practice here every day. She found the control."
Larned (7-5) posed its biggest threat against Prough in the second inning. Larned's leadoff hitter was aboard afer a walk, and back-to-back singles with one out loaded the bases. But, Prough got a pop-up and a groundout to the circle to end the inning.
"When she's in command of her pitches, and is hitting her spots consistently, she does a nice job working out," Maska said. "She keeps the ball on the ground and gives our defense a chance to make plays."
Offensively, Hays High collected nine hits, but stranded six runners -- all in scoring position.
Leadoff senior Shea Briggs managed to go 3 for 4 and score one run, while senior Katelyn Schumacher drove in a pair of runs on a bloop RBI in the first, and a double to right-center in the fifth.
Indian sophomore Jenna Luebbers took the circle in Game 2, and fell into a 4-2 hole (helped by five HHS errors) after six innings, while Hays High couldn't muster much agianst Larned sophomore Shaylene Shepherd. She allowed just three HHS hits through five.
"I wish I could say I gave them a great motivational speech, but I just told them we looked like we couldn't play over two hours of softball," Maska said. "And, if we needed to have longer practices next week, I'd be happy to stay longer."
Hays High's bats came alive in the sixth as the Indians collected six hits and scored five runs to take the lead. Schumacher had an RBI-double, junior Julie Balzer had a bunt single, and Hays High took command of the game against Larned junior reliever Reaghan Burris.
"Even when we got down, I think the girls still felt like they were in control," Maska said. "They didn't panic, and they went to work a little bit more in the batter's box, and push some across."
Prough came in for the save, giving up one Larned run in the seventh, before freshman Tessa Stickel made a double play on a line-out to end the game.
Balzer finished 3 for 3 and scored three runs in the game, the only Indian with more than one hit. Luebber struck out three with two walks. She gave up four earned runs.
Hays High, inactive for the last week, plays three doubleheaders next week, beginning with a Tuesday trip to Liberal.
"That will be the best thing for these girls, especially with them being young," Maska said. "The young ones just need to play and get as much experience as possible. Next week should be good for us, especially as we gear up for the postseason."
Hays High 5, Larned 0
Larned (7-4) 000 000 0 -- 0 4 4
Hays High (7-4) 100 102 x -- 5 11 1
Lucas and Langdon; Prough and Wells. W -- Prough (6-3). L -- Lucas. 2B -- Briggs, Schumacher, Stickel, Hays High. 3B -- Luebbers, Hays High.
Hays High 7, Larned 5
Larned (7-5) 001 021 1 -- 5 4 1
Hays High (8-4) 010 105 x -- 7 10 2
Shepherd, Burris (6) and Langdon; Luebbers, Prough (7) and Wells. W -- Luebbers (2-1). Sv -- Prough (1). L -- Burris. 2B -- Rozo, Larned; Stickel, Schumacher, Hays High. 3B -- Balzer, Hays High.