HILLSBORO – When Kiel Miller began filling out his lineup card prior to first pitch Friday morning, he did so under less than ideal circumstances. But even with two starters out against No. 10 Hillsboro, the Lady Tigers were down just three runs through four and a half innings during the eventual 11-4 loss.
The loss was the fourth-straight in 11-3A for the Lady Tigers, with three of those coming against top-10 teams, according to the latest polls released Monday morning by the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Brock leads the pack as the No.3-ranked team in the poll, Grandview sits at No. 8 and Hillsboro rounds out the top-10.
Starting catcher Page Green was held out with a right leg injury she sustained late in Tuesday’s home loss to Grandview. Regular third baseman and backup catcher, Tatum Stegint was forced to miss the trip entirely while home sick.
Despite the final score, Glen Rose compiled one of its better all-around games of the last month and did so against a more-than-capable opponent.
As a team, the Lady Tigers recorded quality at-bats in 19 of their 26 plate appearances, drew four walks while only striking out five times, had six players record a hit and only committed two fielding errors.
“It was basically exactly what we have been working on, especially at the plate,” Miller said. “We are trying to focus on not swinging at the first thing they throw up there and make them throw a strike. Defensively we kind of just had to throw girls out there in position where they aren’t comfortable. It hurts when you are without two starters and even more when they both happen to be your catchers.
“We shuffled some people around today and I thought they played well,” Miller continued. “We brought our bats, maybe a little later in the game than we needed to, but we brought our bats and started hitting the ball well. The key hits that we have been looking for over the last week and a half showed up and we were finally able to generate some runs.”
Hillsboro scratched three runs in the bottom of the first and second inning. Lady Eagle shortstop, Elexus Trenkle drove a line drive to center field that plated the first run of the game. After a passed ball allowed for the second run of the inning to score, the Nicholls State commit scored on a sac-fly to Aubrey Starnes in center field.
Trenkle also launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to break the game open.
A walk and two singles were allowed to score in the second inning – all unearned – courtesy of two wild pitches and a throwing error.
Miller’s reshuffled lineup first cracked the run column in the top of the third inning.
Sophomore Sydney Lozier laced a one-out single into center field to reach in her second-straight plate appearance. Destenie Lewis followed Starnes’ sacrifice bunt with a single for her 19th RBI of the season. Madi Gibson flew out to center field to end the inning with Glen Rose trailing, 6-1.
Courtney Morris delivered a 10-pitch shutdown inning in the bottom of the third to quickly put the bats back in the hands of her offense.
Sabrina Watson led off the fourth inning with a single and moved into scoring position when Jaci Bridges reached via an error. Kensy Massey hit a fielder’s choice to Trenkle at second base to put runners at first and third with one out.
Four pitches after a Hillsboro pitching change, Chole Deason drove in Watson with a single back up the middle. Lozier continued her productive day at the plate when she drove in Massey with a sac-fly to left field. The run cut the Lady Eagle advantage in half, 6-3.
Gibson followed a Lewis triple in the seventh inning with a single for the final run of the 11-4 loss. The RBI was Gibson’s team leading 22nd on the season.
After notching a strikeout to end the first inning, which was the first of the current losing skid, Morris collected three more punch outs and issued just one walk during the 97-pitch outing.
The Lady Tigers need to win their next three – at home against Millsap and on the road against Keene and Rio Vista – to put themselves in place for a rematch against Peaster with a chance to move back into the playoff race.
“We have Millsap on Tuesday, but after that we just need to beat the people we are supposed to beat,” Miller said. “We need to beat Rio, we need to beat Keene and then we get a rematch against Peaster. I think everyone at that game felt that we had control until late.”
“In the second half of district we have got to start hitting the ball and putting the ball in play with runners on the bases,” Miller continued. “That is the whole thing. It’s not like we are not hitting the ball, we are just hitting the ball right at people with runners in scoring position. It almost one of those deals that if we keep hitting the ball then they have to start falling. We are looking forward to going into the second half and being able to generate more runs.”
(8-13, 2-4) Glen Rose and (6-12-2, 1-5) Millsap are scheduled for a 7 p.m. first pitch at the Lady Tiger softball field.