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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Wednesday Highlands Round-Up: Baseball, Softball Drop Tough Decisions

Teams Lose by Similar Scores

PHOTO: Cody Skaggs, Highlands junior first baseman Gracie Schlosser (17) and freshman second baseman Bailey Markus (12) get in position during the game against Pendleton County on Wednesday.

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The Highlands Bluebirds softball team (26-8 overall) did not start out strong and could not recover in an 8-5 defeat to the Pendleton County LadyCats (20-10) at Winkler Field.

Highland has lost both meetings to Pendleton County this year. The LadyCats' head coach is former Highlands head coach Rob Coffey. Highlands also lost 7-6 in Falmouth on April 19.

Pendleton County started the season 12-3. That includes a 4-2 win over defending state champion Louisville Male on April 17 in the Dan Cummins Classic at Great Crossing in Georgetown.

"You think about key injuries and you don't think one or two people are going to mess up that chemistry. But it did for us for a long time," Coffey said. "We took some hits. We're playing a great schedule. I think we're where we're wanting to be at the right time. With no more injuries, I think we'll do really well."

Pendleton County moved to 4-3 against 9th Region competition. The LadyCats won the 10th Region two years ago then beat Dixie Heights, 1-0 in the semi-state game before losing 12-0 in six innings to Central Hardin in the state quarterfinals. Coffey said Pendleton County has battled its fair share of injuries, but everyone is currently healthy.

The Bluebirds committed four errors to two for the LadyCats. Highlands also left 10 on base to seven for the visitors.

"We should have scored more. We made some mistakes that we can't repeat," said Milt Horner, Highlands Head Coach. "We were a little flat. It's the middle of exam week. Does that have something to do with it? I thought we would be fired up. We were in the game."

Highlands wound up outhitting Pendleton County, 12-11. The Bluebirds batted .364 (12-for-33) to .354 (11-for-31) for the LadyCats. Freshman second baseman Bailey Markus led Highlands going 3-for-3 with a walk.

Sophomore Carly Cramer and seventh grade outfielder Payton Brown both went 3-for-4 for Highlands. Brown scored twice and Cramer stole a base.

Highlands trailed 6-0 entering the bottom of the fourth. But sophomore starting pitcher Kennedy Baioni homered scoring senior Bri Tharps. The Bluebirds added one run that inning and scored once in the fifth to trim the margin to 6-4.

But Pendleton County scored twice in the sixth inning to go up 8-4. The Bluebirds scored once in the bottom of the frame to make the final score. Highlands loaded the bases once with no out.

"That's been a work in progress because we start a seventh grader and two eighth graders," Coffey said of Pendleton County's defense. "The girl that made the play in center field is an eighth grader. We've had a couple tough times. But they're really good athletes and they responded really well. The instincts and all that other good stuff are coming. You have to make those plays against good teams."

Baioni fell to 12-5 with the loss. She pitched the first four innings. Seventh grader Kaitlyn Dixon pitched the next two before Cramer pitched the seventh. Pendleton County scored six earned runs.

Highlands concludes the regular season at Scott (11-10) on Thursday. Game time is 5:30 p.m.

Ryle 8, Highlands 5:

The Bluebirds (19-16) lost their final regular season game to the Raiders (16-17). Rain around mid-day moved the game to Highland Park.

Seven walks hurt the Bluebirds. Ryle built an 8-1 lead entering the bottom of the fourth. Ryle had two errors and left nine on base to one error and 11 left on base for Highlands.

The Bluebirds batted .323 (11-for-34) to .276 (8-for-29) for the Raiders. Junior Ryne Wiseman went 2-for-2 with a double and run scored. Seniors John Barth and Vance Moore both went 2-for-4 with a stolen base. Barth had a run batted in and senior Jason Noe doubled in a run.

Senior Owen Carris (3-3) started the game pitching three innings. Junior Austin Eads pitched the last four innings. The two struck out two each.

The 36th District Tournament is next for the Bluebirds. They've won it every year since 2011.

Highlands takes on Bellevue at 1 p.m. in the district semifinals Sunday.


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