Late surge helps Huskies
Highland had their No. 1 ranking tested on Friday during the regional playoffs against Wapello.
After defeating the Arrows in conferenence play twice during the year by a combined 12 runs, Wapello gave the Huskies a fight.
Two home runs let Wapello jump on Highland early, giving them a two-run lead early, but Highland’s high-powered offense couldn’t be contained as they fought back with seven runs in the final two innings for an 8-3 win, sending the Huskies (30-1) to Monday’s regional final.
“(This game was) so beneficial for us,” Highland head coach Carrie Weiland said. “Between the crowd and the parents and kids, this was the best thing to have happen, and to come out on top, because we needed to have some adversity. It was a full game and we haven’t played a lot of full games, and we’ll need to do that against good competition.”
Katie Springer picked up the win from the circle for Highland, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out seven batters.
It took a bit for the Highland bats to get going as Wapello jumped out to a 3-1 lead on homeruns by Aubrey Melvin and Ashley Hahnbaum over the first five innings.
“I don’t think it was (a lull), because we were ready to play,” Weiland said. “Things just weren’t falling where we needed them to and we were hitting it right at them. It was just a matter of time before it all started to come together.”
In the sixth, the bats woke up for the Huskies.
Highland strung together a three-run inning to take a 4-3 lead, then tacked on another four in the seventh to complete the victory against Wapello.
“(Wapello) was really hungry to beat us and I think this game was their best opportunity to do it,” Weiland said. “They came really ready and had two good hits on hard pitches, so they were really ready to play. Once we put pressure on them offensively, I knew they might struggle with that.”
Offensively for the Huskies, Cheyann Adamson went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run, while Kelsey Hora picked up two runs for Highland in the game.
Next up for Highland is a regional final game against Pella Christian. If the Huskies win, they will earn a berth into next week’s state tournament.
The game will be the first playoff game the Huskies will not be on their home field for this year, with the game taking place at Washington High School, but the feel of a road game might not be a bad thing, according to Weiland.
“I’m really OK not having it be a home game,” Weiland said. “It’s nice to get on the bus and have a routine, because that’s what we’ll need at the state tournament. When you are at your home field you warm up and see everybody trickle in and people want to socialize and the girls want to stay focused. The traveling to Washington will be a plus for us, and I do believe it will be like home-field advantage.”
The game between Highland and Pella Christian will begin at 7 p.m.