Friday marked the beginning of the final days at Hillcrest for many. The all-school picnic and clean-up day was followed by an afternoon at the ball field where the Lady Comets hosted a double-header against Clinton/Graceville/Beardsley (CGB). They left the 2017 regular season in the dust, scoring 17 runs over the two games, giving up only 3 to CGB, in a dramatic finish.
Hillcrest came ready to play in game one. Coach Craig Nersten has been shuffling lineups and defensive positions over the past few games, allowing the Seniors to set the tone for seventh and eighth grade players stepping into key roles. Last game, eighth grader Audra Ewan stepped in for Comet standout Ruthanne Erickson behind the plate. The move allowed Audra to catch pitches thrown by her senior cousin, a memory Audra will hang on to as she looks forward to four more years of Comet softball.
On Friday the Comets' leaders carried a similar sense of urgency on the field. Seniors Tara Ferenczy and Anna Newman provided important offensive sparks for Hillcrest, with seventh grader Rachel Nordlund fitting her helmut carefully, watching the Seniors bat for extra bases before stepping into the box. Nordlund followed the Seniors' example, knocking a sharp hit in her first real varsity experience. Freshman Juliana Undseth was watching the Seniors with Nordlund, laying down a perfect bunt in the game, later taking an aggressive path on the bases to steal second.
Through the game Hillcrest's ace, Nicole DeKok gave up five hits and struck out 5 batters over seven innings. Hillcrest won the first of the two-game double-header, 8-1.
In the second contest DeKok made game one look like a warm-up match. Her pitches were more on point, sitting down 13 Wolverine batters by pitching strikes and watching them swing. The 13 strikeouts move DeKok past her Hillcrest record of 122 strikeouts in a season. Currently, DeKok has tallied 124 strikeouts.
Coach Nersten continued to get valuable experience for his younger players, putting Augusta Ewan at shortstop, where she held the Comet infield down with great precision. Ewan notably ripped a strong line drive to left when she stepped into the plate.
Ferenczy continued her dominance at the plate, reaching base on all four at bats, going 6-for-8 in the double header.
Hillcrest has a home game scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at 5pm. Playoff seedings are released this weekend.