Apr. 29—When the Highlands softball team suffered a 14-4 loss to Freeport in its Section 1-4A opener at home April 9, the Golden Rams immediately could have looked ahead to the next matchup with the Yellowjackets.
But the focus for the team, coach Jen Koprivnikar said, stayed in the short term.
As of late, Highlands has picked up steam with three straight wins, averaging 12 runs a game. That included Monday’s 13-2 rout of Freeport in the rematch and Wednesday’s 11-3 home triumph over Knoch.
“We had a good feeling that the girls were going to come together and play well, and they are really showing that now,” said Koprivnikar, whose team improved to 10-3-1 overall and remain tied with Burrell for first in the section at 5-2.
Highlands and Burrell will play Friday for the lead in the section in a rematch of a 5-2 win by the Bucs on April 20.
“I think the loss to Freeport the first time was good, in a way, because it put us in our place a little bit, and it made us realize that it was going to be a hard road to get to where we want to be,” Koprivnikar said.
Against Knoch on Wednesday, Highlands led 10-0 after three innings and collected 15 hits for the game. Jaycee Haidze, Kylie Zourelias and Jess Cekada each tallied three hits, and Abbie Deiseroth knocked in three runs.
Battle for first
Leechburg and Springdale had established themselves as the top two teams in Section 3-A before their first matchup of the season Wednesday afternoon.
Both were 4-0 in the section and had dominant wins along the way.
Round 1 went to Springdale in dramatic fashion. Junior Autumn Sprouse singled with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to lift the Dynamos, 5-4.
The win snapped Leechburg’s 19-game winning streak in section games.
Springdale got the game winner after Leechburg tied it in the top of seventh on a two-run homer from Karli Mazak.
“The girls understood this was a big game against a really good, well-coached Leechburg team,” Springdale coach Anthony Pototo said. “But we’re a good team, too. We’ve been playing really well.”
The rematch is set for May 7 at Leechburg’s Gilpin Park.
With five Section 1-5A games left, Plum is off the field for the next week because of covid issues.
Wednesday’s section doubleheader with Woodland Hills, Friday’s section matchup with Kiski Area and Monday’s section clash with Penn Hills have been postponed. Coach Phil DiLonardo said he hopes his team will be able to play their remaining section games before the end of the regular season.
The Mustangs are scheduled to come back to game action May 7, DiLonardo said.
Plum is 8-3 overall, and it improved to 6-1 in section play after Monday’s 7-6 win over Franklin Regional.
The game was a measure of payback after a 5-0 loss to the Panthers on April 7.
Monday’s victory was the Mustangs’ fourth in a row.
All 13 runs were scored in the final four innings, and Jaralyn Kincaid’s run-scoring double in the bottom of the seventh allowed Plum to enjoy a walk-off win.
Plum collected 10 hits, with Kincaid and Melanie Meinke producing two hits apiece. Makenzie Lang hit her team-best fifth home run, and she has 15 RBIs.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .