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Haven losses were turning point for softball team

Staff writer

Each year Hillsboro High School softball team chooses a word or phrase to serve as a theme for the year. The 2011 theme has been “relentless.”

That got put to the test following a pair of losses May 3 at Haven, 10-9 and 9-8. That was the only time the Trojans were swept in a doubleheader all season and it was the most and second most runs the team allowed.

“We had to bounce back after Haven,” head coach Stephanie Sinclair said Friday. “That lighted a fire under them (the players).”

After those losses, the players each had to name something they could improve on. And they succeeded at improving, Sinclair said.

“I think everybody has really stepped up,” senior catcher Allie Faul said. “And we’ve focused on the little things, which has helped.”

Faul identified cutting down on the number of passed balls allowed as an area she needed to improve. Faul has completed passed-ball drills every day in practice, and she said she has since allowed fewer in games.

“You have to slide behind the ball with your body,” Faul said. “It’s more body than hands.”

Since the losses at Haven, the team has been on a six-game winning streak, allowing only 9 runs and 1 unearned run.

“Defensively we’ve really picked it up,” Sinclair said. “That was the turning point.”

In two games at the regional tournament in Lyons, the Trojans held Marion and Southeast of Saline scoreless. Those shutouts gave pitchers Courtney Weber and Tena Loewen identical earned-run averages of 1.98.

The team will now compete in the state softball tournament for the third consecutive year. In 2009 the Trojans lost in the first round, and in 2010 they placed fourth. Faul, one of two seniors on the team along with Taylor Nikkel, is excited for the chance to continue that improvement.

“It’s kind of a happy ending on the end of my senior year,” Faul said.

The fifth-seeded Trojans will begin the 3A state softball tournament Friday against fourth-seed Frontenac. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Field A of Twin Oaks Complex, 3601 Anderson Ave., Manhattan. The semifinals and championship games are Saturday.

Last modified May 25, 2011

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