SPARTA — A great defensive play can be just the spark a softball team needs.
Friday, that was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Highland Scots.
The Scots used a big defensive play to shut down an Olentangy Berlin rally in the second inning, then exploded offensively en route to a 10-0 victory in the Division II Sectional tournament at Highland.
“Our defense has mainly been pretty solid,” said Highland coach Shelley Hornsby. “It makes us relax a little more (offensively), especially when you have a big play to end an inning. Those always tend to motivate you and get you hyped up.”
Highland led 1-0 after the first inning, but Berlin looked to tie things up in the second. A walk to Miah Crum and a sacrifice fly got the runner into scoring position and the Bears looked like they might tie it when Remy Camp singled. But, Highland left fielder Savannah Fitzpatrick threw a laser to home plate, catching Crum off guard, who then tried to race back to third. The rundown ended when Brooklyn Geiger tagged out Crum.
That great defensive play did more than spark the Scots, it ignited a huge blast.
Highland erupted for six runs in the bottom of the second, sending 11 batters to the plate, to break the game wide open. Geiger and Gena West both singled, Fitzpatrick doubled and then Haven Farson then smacked a two-run home run that broke the Bears backs.
“I’ve been really pleased with how the girls have worked in practice. They’ve really come together with their batting in the last part of the season,” Hornsby said. “I think there are some things that are really clicking with them.”
The Scots added four more in the third, thanks in part to a two-run home run by Fitzpatrick, and then watched as pitcher Lucy Smith continued her dominance on the mound.
Smith allowed just three hits on the day, while walking one and striking out one. She also got some solid defensive plays behind her, including a lineout double play to Geiger that ended the game.
“Lucy never quite gets the credit she deserves. I think she does a phenomenal job and the leadership she brings to the team is very positive,” Hornsby said.
The Scots cranked out 14 hits on the day offensively, led by Fitzpatrick and Farson, who had three each. Both of them had a single, double and home run. Liz Jensen added a single, double and an RBI, while Smith had two singles and an RBI. Geiger and Gena West both doubled, and Kaitlyn Carney and Mattie Ruehrmund both singled.
Highland will advance to district play Monday when they will take on Granville at 5 p.m. at a site to be determined.
“We’ll have to stay alive with our bats,” Hornsby said. “Even if our defense is solid, we’ve got to beat them with our bats. I think it will be a good game. As long as we continue to do positive things, I see good things coming up for us.”