SPARTA — The Utica Redskins softball team got its bats going in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday against Highland, racking up 21 hits in a 17-8 win over the Scots after winning the first game 8-6.
“In a doubleheader, you’ve got to forget about the first game,” Utica coach Josh Sichina said. “You look at scores all the time from doubleheaders and you’re getting mercied in the first game and winning the second game. The girls did a good job of clearing it out.”
Utica racked up two runs in the first inning on back-to-back pop outs. The Scots had a quick answer in the bottom of the first. Leadoff hitter Savannah Fitzpatrick got on base with a double and she later scored on an error. With two runners aboard, Kaitlyn Carney crushed a home run in left to run up the score to 4-2 in Highland’s favor.
After the four-run Scot explosion, it was all Utica. Leah Swetnam and Ashlyn Ryan scored on a single from Taylor Heckman to tie the game at 4, and a Scarlett Elliott single plated Heckman and Kallie Robinson to run the score up to 6-4. Highland scored a run in the bottom of the frame off a double from Fitzpatrick to bring Mary Swartz around, but the Redskins again had a solid outing with their bats.
Utica poured in five runs in the third. A Swetnam double scored Shayla Estep and back-to-back singles scored a pair of runs. Robinson and Heckman each scored later in the inning to quickly put the Scots in a deeper hole.
While she was doing work at the plate, Heckman was also taking care of business in the circle. After surrendering four runs in the first, she allowed only four runs in the remaining six innings.
“She loves to compete so anytime you know there’s a challenge, you know she’s going to compete,” Sichina said. “I have total faith in her.”
After three quick outs, Utica tacked on another six runs. Five singles resulted in three runs and an Elliott homer pushed the lead to 17-5 in the fourth. Highland scored two in the bottom part of the frame on a two-RBI double from Liz Jensen to score Gena West and Fitzpatrick to cut the lead to 10. Another double in the fifth scored Farson, to stave off the run rule, but in the final two innings, neither team was able to score.
“Going into the second game, I feel that we were a little sluggish and the girls didn’t really get up until we were already down by 10 runs,” Hornsby said. “I just told them we need to come out here from the get-go ready to play.”
Heckman was a perfect 5 for 5 at the plate with four runs and five RBI, while Olivia Rodeniser was also perfect at 3 for 3 with two runs. Hoover tallied three hits, with Elliott, Estep, Swetnam and Robinson each tallied two hits. Robinson also scored three runs and Elliott tied for the team lead with five RBI.
Heckman patrolled the circle all seven innings, allowing nine hits and seven earned runs, with three strikeouts and three walks on the day.
Lucy Smith started on the rubber for Highland, lasting 2 1/3 innings with 10 hits and nine earned runs counting against her. Madison Peoples came on in relief, surrendering 11 hits and six earned runs with a strikeout.
Carney led Highland at the plate with a homer and a double, a run and four RBI. Jensen chipped in two hits and two RBI, with Fitzpatrick kicking in a pair of doubles, tow runs and an RBI. Smith, West and Mattie Ruehrmund each poked a base knock.
In the first game, Highland again started quick with two runs in the first inning, but the Redskins scratched their way to three runs in the third, with Robinson, Hoover and Elliott each scoring on back-to-back-to-back at bats. Heckman smashed a two-run shot in the fourth inning to put Utica ahead 5-2 after the fourth.
Carney and Farson each scored in the fifth for the Scots to trim the lead to one, but a leadoff homer by Rodeniser quickly pushed the lead back to two. A double by Heckman scored Lees and Robinson to give the Redskins their eight runs.
With their backs against the wall in the final inning, Highland’s Carney hit a home run, and Fitzpatrick was subbed in next, after arriving to the game late because she was taking the ACT, and she hit another home run, but then there were three-straight outs to end the drama at 8-6.
“We just took advantage of the opportunities that they gave us and in the back-and-forth game, we ended up coming out on top of a very good Highland team,” Sichina said.
Lees led the Redskins with three hits, including two doubles, and a run. Heckman and Robinson each had a pair of hits, with Robinson leading the team with three RBI. Lees pitched all seven innings, giving up 15 hits, five earned runs while fanning two and walking one.
Carney had an outstanding day at the plate going 4 of 4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs. Brooklyn Geiger kicked in three hits and Haven Farson and Joselyn Stuckman each had a pair of hits. Madison Peoples pitched five innings with nine hits, five earned runs and three strikeouts. Lucy Smith came in for two innings of relief with two hits and an unearned run to her credit.
“I think we did pretty well, it’s just that we were a little flat today in certain areas and they were a good hitting team and you can’t be flat when you’re playing a good hitting team,” Hornsby said.
Highland fell to 8-5 on the year but still carries a 7-1 Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference record into tonight’s matchup against league-leading Cardington on the road at 5:15 p.m. Utica improved to 12-1 and returns to action tonight at home against Newark Catholic at 5 p.m.