Caitlyn Blackburn sat down 13 batters in Hillcrest’s home win over Waynesville on Thursday night.
The Hornets won 6-4 on the shoulders of Blackburn who went seven innings with 0 walks, allowing 8 hits and 3 earned runs. The pressure has been on Blackburn since being named the team’s sole pitcher for the season.
Adding to the pressure was Hillcrest’s game plan for the night—pound the strike zone.
“Our game plan was to throw lots of strikes to try and challenge them at the plate and then let our defense work,” said Hillcrest coach Josh McKee. “Our last game we didn’t challenge the strike zone very much and dug ourselves a pretty big hole, so our strategy defensively tonight was just pound the strike zone and see what they could do with the bat.”
Blackburn did her part on the other side of the ball as well, going 2 for 3 with a double and 2 RBI. Fellow Hornet Haley Frillman led the Hillcrest offense batting 1.000 with 2 doubles, 3 RBIs and a run.
“Tonight we worked very well together as a team,” Frillman said. “It has been awhile since we’ve been able to come together as a whole instead of working individually, but tonight was pretty great.”
Blackburn got the Hornets on the board early with a double to centerfield in the bottom of the first, scoring Mariah Lee and Frillman to draw first blood. Then Lee picked up a RBI in the top of the second inning and scored on Frillman’s first double of the night to make it a 4-0 game for Hillcrest at the end of two.
“I’ve worked really hard, so tonight meant a lot to me,” said Blackburn. “Having the offense rally behind me really boosts my confidence even more and gets me totally excited.”
Momentum shifted to Waynesville with a catch by third baseman Madelynn Bailey thrown to Sydney Marcum at first for 5-3 double play to end the third inning. Malia Jennings kept it rolling on offense with a one-run double to right field to get the Tigers in the game.
Hillcrest scored two more in the fourth before Waynesville went on a two-out rally in the top of five. Megan Pattison scored on a wild pitch then Morgan Loggins hit a line drive to send home Afatia Poinsette to make it a three-run game.
Down to their last inning with runners on first and third, Macalah Danielson found a hole behind second base to score Pattison and put the Tigers within two. Marcum’s hit down the third baseline was bobbled to load the bases for Waynesville. But Hillcrest’s Blackburn remained cool on the mound and the Hornets picked up the last out for the win.
“The three things we talk about are teamwork, responsibility and perseverance and that’s what they did out there,” said Waynesville coach Scott Turner. “They battled back and had the tying run at second base there at the end, just unfortunate that it was a line drive to the rightfielder.”
Hillcrest is now 2-1 headed into a doubleheader on Saturday against Cassville and conference foe Glendale.
Waynesville was handed their first loss of the young season, now 3-4, and will face ??? at ?? on ???.
The Tiger offense was led by Pattinson who went 3 for three and scored twice. Jennings went 2 for 3 with a double and one RBI. On the mound for Waynesville, Danielson threw 3 strikeouts and 1 walk in 6 innings.
Waynesville 0 0 0 1 2 0 1—4
Hillcrest 2 2 0 2 0 0 0—6