Little things add up for Freeport softball in win over Highlands

Friday, April 9, 2021 | 8:48 PM

Freeport third baseman Autumn Powell grounded out to second base for the first out of the second inning of Friday’s Section 1-4A opener at Highlands.

The grounder scored catcher Natalie King, who had walked and moved to third on a pair of wild pitches.

The small-ball run was a humble beginning to what turned out to be a well-rounded offensive effort for the Yellowjackets.

Freeport collected 15 hits and scored at least once in every inning from the second on en route to a 14-4 victory.

“We were talking right before the game about not being comfortable at any point in the game,” said King, who singled three times, knocked in a run, scored once and withstood a collision at the plate and a hard fall on a rundown play between third and home in the fifth.

“No matter if we had four, six or eight runs, we needed to keep going, keep hitting and not let up. We did that today.”

Freeport improved to 2-2 and bounced back from Wednesday’s 9-8 walkoff loss to Mars. The Yellowjackets led 8-5 before the Planets scored four in the bottom of the seventh to win it.

“We had a good practice yesterday, and the girls were really loose throughout the game,” Freeport coach Sam Ross said. “They were ready to play. They got dirty uniforms today, and that’s a good thing.

“Moving up to 4A, you hope you have good enough players to contend and compete. We know we’re going to face good lineups with good pitchers and hitters, and we hope we can match up. This game was another good confidence boost for the girls.”

All nine in Freeport’s lineup scored at least one run, eight of the nine had at least one hit, and eight of the nine had at least one RBI against the Highlands pitching combination of Jaycee Haidze and Abbie Deiseroth.

“They have a strong lineup, but so do we. We just didn’t have the same type of hitting day they did,” said Highlands coach Jen Koprivnikar, who saw her team drop to 3-1-1 overall.

“We didn’t get on (Freeport pitcher Sydney Selker) like we needed to. She was hittable, but we just didn’t do it.”

Powell, fifth in the Freeport batting order, added a two-run double in the seventh, No. 9 hitter Aimee Heasley tripled and drove in two, and Emily Schmidt doubled twice for the Yellowjackets.

Maya Borghol collected a pair of hits. She also smacked a ball to deep center field with the bases loaded in the fifth. The ball deflected off the glove of the center fielder, and all three runners scored.

That extended the Freeport lead to 10-2.

“We had a couple scrimmages and a couple of games where one had a big bat, but four or five players might not have had a big bat,” Ross said. “But today was a great team effort, from top to bottom. We all had some nice at-bats and went pretty deep in counts.”

Kylie Zourelias led Highlands with three hits and three RBIs. She doubled in a pair of runs in the fourth and singled home a run in the sixth.

Haidze walked in the sixth and came around to score on a wild pitch for Highlands’ fourth and final run.

Selker, a freshman, picked up the second win of her varsity career. She went the distance and gave up five hits while striking out seven and walking eight. Three of the four Highlands runs were earned.

Haidze pitched into the fifth, gave up nine hits and struck out five while also walking five. Of the 10 runs she gave up, five were earned.

“It’s one game at a time, and (Freeport) is a team we need to beat to get to where we want to be,” Koprivnikar said. “We get them again in a couple weeks, so we’ll see how that goes.”

The Yellowjackets and Golden Rams will have a rematch April 26 at Freeport.

“After Wednesday’s really, really tough loss, we wanted to make sure nothing like that happened again,” King said. “We wanted to get a good lead and make sure it stayed that way. Since we’re seeing new teams, some teams we’ve never played before, we just have to come out strong and play our game.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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