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The Highlands Bluebirds softball team (11-1 overall) lost the only game decided by fewer than four runs this year entering the day.
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"We try to get (the girls) to focus on one game at a time," said Milt Horner, Highlands Head Coach. "They're teen-age girls. Sometimes that works. Sometimes that doesn't work. I think we needed a close game. We hadn't had any in a while. There is certainly a lot more pressure when it is a 4-2 game in the seventh inning than when it's a 12-2 game."
Highlands sophomore pitcher Kennedy Baioni threw another gem moving to 6-0 on the season. Baioni struck out 14 for the second time in a game this week.
"(Baioni) really pitched ahead in the count," Horner said. "She gave up a couple home runs to their best two hitters. But other than that, she was dominant. She's coming into her own."
Highlands batted .385 (10-for-26) in the win with no extra-base hits. Senior Bri Tharps went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in and two runs scored. Senior Caroline Class also went 2-for-4. Junior Anna Greenwell, freshman Michelle Barth and seventh grader Payton Brown all went 2-for-3. Barth and Greenwell had one RBI each and Brown scored a run.
The Bluebirds stole three bases. Greenwell had one with freshman Bailey Markus and sister Camryn Markus, a seventh grader, stealing one each.
"Trusting your coaches is everything. But if they ever get anything wrong, they let us know," Camryn Markus said. "But you still have to be smart running the bases. We practice that and we do really well with it (in games)."
Highlands plays host to Henry County on Saturday. Game time is 4 p.m.
Scott 5, Highlands 4:
The Bluebirds (5-4) dropped a road game to the Eagles (4-7) to start the Doc Morris Invitational.
Highlands batted slightly better than Scott at .276 (8-for-29) compared to .267 (8-for-30). But the Eagles took better advantage of their opportunities. Scott senior Michael Moore led all batters going 2-for-4 with a run batted in and run scored.
Senior Jake Gulley and juniors Nick Robinson and Ryne Wiseman had doubles for Highlands. Seniors Dom Robinson and Jason Noe stole one base each.
Junior Jonah Hankins took the loss for Highlands pitching the seventh and eighth innings. He struck out one and allowed an earned run and two hits. Sophomore Jack Hendrix pitched the first three innings and senior Evan Rom threw the next three. Hendrix and Rom struck out five each and each allowed two earned runs. Hendrix allowed five hits and walked two. Rom walked five and allowed one hit.
Highlands plays Louisville Trinity (11-0) for a second time at Highland Park on Friday. Game time is 7:15 p.m.