Both were good defensive efforts, but Science Hill robbed a homer while Daniel Boone saw one slip away. The end result was a 4-3 win for the Lady Hilltoppers on Wednesday at Metro-Kiwanis Park.
Science Hill (13-3) moved into first place in the Big Seven Conference with a record of 3-0.
“It was a great day against a great team,” said Science Hill head coach Jerry Higgins. “We talked about it all year. To take that next step, you have to beat that team. We’ve got that in the books now.”
The Lady Trailblazers (13-3) fell to 2-1 in league play.
With two outs in the top of the second inning and the game tied at 2-2, Boone’s McKenna Dietz hit a fly ball to right field that probably had the distance to get out of the park. However, Science Hill freshman Emma Cullop tracked it down, reached above the yellow guard on top of the fence, and made a spectacular catch.
Unfortunately, Cullop hit her face on the chain-link fence and had to be removed from the game.
“I thought it was absolutely amazing,” said Science Hill shortstop Kasey Bennett. “It was definitely a game changer for everyone. There’s not one person on the team I wouldn’t do the same thing for.”
“That freshman, love her,” said Lady Hilltoppers’ pitcher Sejal Neas. “She saved the game for us. I am thankful she made that catch.”
Said Higgins, “She had a bead on it from the start. That’s why she didn’t care about the fence. I wish she had gone into it with her back, but she turned and hit it with her face.”
In the bottom of the third inning with the score still tied, Science Hill freshman Jayden Salts hit a fly ball to left-center field. Dietz tracked it down and tried to make a running over-the-shoulder catch. The ball appeared to be short of home-run distance, but it hit Deitz’s glove and went over the fence.
It gave Science Hill a 4-2 lead, which was all it would need.
“We got lucky,” said Higgins. “But it was a good thing Jayden hit it well enough to have that opportunity.”
Boone struck quickly with two first-inning runs, but Bennett had a loud and authoritative answer in the bottom of the frame. She hit a homer that cleared the left field fence with plenty of room to spare.
“Before that, everyone was so pumped up and everything,” said Bennett. “I just wanted to help my teammates out and hit that for them. We were ready to go and ready to do what we had to do to win.”
Neas got off to a rocky start, but finished strong.
“It was the best game she’s pitched since she put on a Science Hill uniform,” said Higgins. “She didn’t make any mistakes, and the defense didn’t make any errors.”
Neas went the distance, allowing eight hits and three runs with no walks and eight strikeouts.
“It was honestly a mix of everything,” said Neas. “I was having a blast out there. I knew my team had it locked down together.”
For Boone, Nickolette Ferguson surrendered six hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.
AT THE PLATE
Dietz and Megan Ackerman each totaled two hits for the Lady Trailblazers.
For Science Hill, Bennett and Mackenzie Powell each had two hits.
Head coach Jeremy Jenkins said it was a battle.
“It was two good teams and two good pitchers,” he said. “We outhit them 8-6 and did not give them anything. They just beat us. I thought the play of the game was the catch their right fielder made on McKenna Dietz.”