The Hillsboro Hawks girls’ softball team came into the Jerry Joyce Tournament at Seckman High School ready to play ball. The Hawks were coming off their first win of the season after starting 0-3 behind a district championship the year prior.
Looking to build off that first win momentum, the Hawks started the tournament Friday with a tight game against Fox High School. Hillsboro started strong with 2 runs in the top of the 1st inning to jump to an early lead behind timely hits from Hailey Genge and Elly Eckrich. Fox answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame with one on the scoreboard.
As the 5th inning began, the Hawks took a commanding 5-2 lead with another 2 runs on the board. Alex Wick had been pitching masterfully until the wheels fell off in the 5th. Timely hitting by Fox accompanied by tragic Hillboro errors led to 3 runs and a tie-game heading into the final two innings. A sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 7th would end a heart-breaker for the Hawks, resulting in a Fox walk-off victory. Despite the Hawks leading in most statistical categories, the lead in errors are what hurt the most. The team had 10 total hits with 2 each from Genge and Eckrich, and had a 48% quality at-bat rate while Alex Wick threw 5.2 innings with 108 pitches (61 strikes), 10 strikeouts, 5 walks and only 1 earned run.
The girls did not have much time to pout though as their next game versus Farmington was already on the table. The Hawks showed great resiliency, storming out with 4 runs in the bottom of the 1st with Hailey Genge’s second double of the day driving in a run.
Hillsboro kept that lead throughout the game as Elly Eckrich toed the mound and held Farmington scoreless through 5 innings. Hillsboro scored again in the 5th to extend a 5-0 lead and never looked back. Farmington did put in a valiant effort in the 6th and 7th innings as they scored 3 runs to make the game interesting, but ultimately fell short. Eckrich was splendid, hurling a complete game on only 101 pitches. She only surrendered 6 hits and 1 walk resulting in 2 earned runs while adding 10 strikeouts and a shining 68% strikeout rate.
As day 2 of the tournament came on Saturday, the Hawks played 2 games with vastly different results. Game 1 saw the Hawks face off against Fort Zumwalt West in what became a trouncing defeat for Hillsboro. Lydia Feiste was an ace on the mound against the Hawks as Hillsboro could only manage 3 hits against the star pitcher. They were completely shut out.
Fort Zumwalt scored 2 runs in each of the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th innings as they ran away with an 8-0 victory. Elly Eckrich had 2 of the 3 hits for Hillsboro while Alex Wick and Jenna Clay combined to pitch 6 innings, giving up 14 hits and 7 earned runs. The Hawks also were not their sharpest in the field, surrendering 5 errors for the game.
The Hawks final game of the tournament saw an absolutely dominant performance in both hitting and pitching against St. Dominic. Elly Eckrich threw a complete game shutout while the team also accumulated 14 runs in a resounding 14-0 victory. The Hawks were holding on to a small 2-0 lead heading into the 4th when the offense exploded for 7 runs in the top of the inning with RBIs from Alana Dunphy, Hailey Genge, Ekrich, Sara Stokes and Alex Wick.
Genge was particularly impressive collecting 4 hits including a home run in the 3rd. “At the plate, I just try to stay relaxed and confident so I can do what I need to in order to help the team win.” noted Gange.
Ekrich’s shutout performance only needed 62 pitches, with 6 strikeouts, a stunning 75% strike rate all while only surrendering one hit and one walk. Her defense behind her was also stellar by not committing a single error.
In all, 8 different Hawks drove in runs as the Hillsboro girls ended the Seckman Tournament on a high note with a total team effort that would make any coach proud.