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Sunday, May 26, 2019

District Championship, Region Quarterfinal Route for Bluebirds Softball, Baseball

Two Run-Rulings for Highlands

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands softball team won its second straight 36th District championship on Saturday.
A year ago, a loss of focus made things more difficult to put the game away than the Highlands Bluebirds softball team (15-10 overall) would have liked.

But this year, Highlands made sure it was not an issue. The Bluebirds run-ruled the Dayton Lady Devils, 11-1 in five innings for their second straight 36th District championship on Saturday at Highland Park.

Highlands freshman pitcher Gracie Schlosser pitched the complete game striking out two, walking one and allowing just one earned run. The Bluebirds made one error behind her and Dayton batted .167 (3-for-18) against her.

"Gracie did a nice job," said Milt Horner, Highlands coach. "She really kept things under control. All in all, our defense played well."

Horner said Highlands wanted to contain Dayton senior shortstop Grace Workman. Workman went 0-for-3.

"She's a tough player. She could probably start for any team in Northern Kentucky," Horner said of Workman. "If you keep her off the bases, it really limits what they can do on offense."

Highlands hit .458 (11-for-24) in the win and took advantage of three Dayton errors. Freshman Anna Greenwell led the way going 2-for-3 with a double, triple, four runs batted in and two runs scored. Junior Abby Rust also went 2-for-3 with a double, triple, RBI and two runs scored. Senior Rachel Gabbard went 2-for-3 with two doubles, RBI and three runs scored.

Junior Piper Macke and eighth grader Carly Cramer also had two hits for Highlands. Macke had a double and two RBI with Cramer stealing two bases.

Highlands faces Ryle in the 9th Region Quarterfinals at Veterans Park in Newport on Monday. Game time is 5 p.m.

Highlands 15, Boone County 0:

The Bluebirds (28-9) run-ruled the Rebels (12-19) in four innings at University of Cincinnati Medical Center Stadium.

"We swung (the bats) really well," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "It's so important in a tournament that's mashed in four days to get out to an early lead and be able to add on so we can save as much pitching as possible."

Senior Trent Johnson singled home senior Chris Bridewell for the only run the Bluebirds needed to win the game. Highlands led 8-0 after two when Mason Schwalbach singled in Johnson and senior Grady Cramer singled in Schwalbach.

The Bluebirds led 11-0 after three. Senior Bryce Ziegler singled home junior Ethan Kavanagh and Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to score Bridwell with Cooper Schwalbach scoing on a balk.

"I think everyone came out and was ready to play," Ziegler said. "Coach Baioni always talks about how we have to come out and have a mentality to not give up. Just play hard. It's the post-season so anything can happen. You can't come in and take teams lightly."

Kavanagh tripled to center in the fourth to score junior Nate Gesenhues before scoring on a passed ball. Senior Steven Grimme singled and Ziegler hit a two-run home run to left to end the game.

Highlands batted an astounding .625 (15-for-24) in the win. Kavanagh went 2-for-3 at lead-off with two triples, three runs batted in and three runs scored. Bridwell went 2-for-2 with four runs scored. Ziegler went 2-for-3 with a home run, walk, three RBI and two runs scored.

Three more Bluebirds had two hits each. Cramer went 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and run scored. Gesenhues went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Johnson went 2-for-2 with a triple, four RBI and a run scored.

Cramer pitched the first three innings to pick up the win and move to 8-2 on the season. Cramer struck out three and walked one. Senior Nolan Turner pitched the fourth inning walking one.

Highlands takes on St. Henry in the 9th Region semifinals back in Florence on Monday. Game time is 1:30 p.m.

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