By John Lachmann
Highlands was off to a promising start in the state softball tournament, winning its opening-round game on Thursday.
But Friday was a different story, as the Bluebirds fell, 12-2 to Apollo in a quarterfinal and 12-0 to Ashland Blazer in the losers’ bracket, ending their season.
Highlands opened the scoring vs. Apollo on a home run by sophomore catcher Shelby Graybill, who clobbered a ball over the left center field fence on a 3-1 count with two outs in the top of the first.
But Katelyn Knott answered with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, and Savanna Williams went deep later in the frame to make it 3-1.
The Bluebirds would score one more run in the fourth when sophomore Brennah Dutcher singled and an error on the play pushed senior Ashley Grosser across.
Apollo continued to play long ball, going deep five times in the contest, including another by Katelyn Knott.
The Eagles induced the mercy rule with a six-run bottom of the fifth.
While Highlands hung around for a while vs. Apollo, Blazer put its game out of doubt early with six runs in the first, one in the second and five more in the third.
The Bluebirds were retired in order until they were down to their final out. Senior Kendall Turner singled to right center, breaking up the perfect game, but it was the only baserunner of the game for Highlands.
The Bluebirds, a strong defensive team most of the season, committed 10 errors in 10 innings in the two games.
It was the first-ever state tournament berth for the Bluebirds, who had won 19 straight games entering Friday.
HIGHLANDS 100-10—2 5 5
APOLLO 301-26—12 11 1
WP: Grady (6 K’s). LP: Spencer. HITTING LEADERS: A—Smith 3-4, 2B, HR; Knott 2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI; Williams 3-3, HR, 2 RBI; Adkisson HR, 3 RBI; Carter 2B. H—Graybill HR. RECORDS: Apollo 22-10, Highlands 27-12.
A. BLAZER 615-00—12 8 0
HIGHLANDS 000-00—0 1 5
WP: Hensley (6 K’s). LP: Spencer. HITTING LEADERS: B—Whitt 2-4; Vanover 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Hensley 2 RBI; Kilburn 2 RBI; Campbell 2-2. RECORDS: Blazer 33-6, Highlands 27-13.