Likely the most challenging game of the year pushed Hillcrest into new territory Thursday night. After Junior Sophie Iverson put one over the fence a new sense of confidence filled the Comet dugout as they played #9 ranked Sebeka, losing a slugfest in 7 innings with a final score of 13-10.
When Iverson stepped in for her first at bat there she carried a new approach to the plate. Sebeka's pitcher throws hard, and is known to paint the corners of the plate to keep hitters off balance. But when Iverson turned on a ball that lingered above the belt-buckle she proved that intimidation isn't something the Comets fall prey to. Iverson blasted a home run over the left-center fence, the longest part of Hannah Park. Her high fives and smiles plastered a 2-0 lead that gave the Comets a sense of confidence as they took the field in the second inning.
Sebeka gained a 3-2 advantage in the 2nd off a home run. The Comets countered with some good hitting and quick work on the base path. In the bottom of the fourth they jumped back on the board after Annie Murphy placed a hard hit ball up the middle. Murphy moved to second easily with a stolen base, and crossed home plate after Iverson cranked another hard hit ball. Iverson moved to third off a stolen base. Head Coach Craig Nersten eyed home plate from the third base coaches box. His tying run was 90 feet from home.
Sebeka failed to get a decent pitch into Dekok, who was eager to plate Iverson by hitting the ball into the green outfield. But Dekok proved patient, watching 4 pitches sail by earning a free trip to first base. Nersten stuck his finger in the air as Dekok trotted down the line, catching Assistant Coach Pete Aasness' eye who sent Dekok to second base. With one out, the Comets were pulling a double steal off a walk. Nersten wanted that run.
Dekok got caught in a hot-box play, and as Sebeka paused the run down they watched Hillcrest even the score in the 3rd with both teams scoring 4 runs. Dekok nearly landed at second, but a close call by the umpire sent Dekok to the dugout.
Sebeka bounced back from Hillcrest's small ball play, scoring 2 runs in the 4th and one in the 5th. Hillcrest came back in the 5th with back-to-back doubles by Dekok and Emma Royce. But Sebeka proved why they are #9 in the state with a sailing home run in the 6th that extended their lead to 13-6. Hillcrest ran out of steam, scoring 3 more runs in the 7th, but failed to close the remaining 2 run gap.
Hillcrest is looking forward to playoffs, with seedings cast today and games played Monday. Senior Megan Aasness is hoping she can continue playing softball well into June. her 48 stolen bases is a single season record, bolstering her total by 4 Thursday afternoon. She'll looking to break 50 today, when Hillcrest plays Barnesville to close the regular season.