Harris puts power on display, Trojans do too in win

Hawks’ clean-up hitter bashes grand slam, drives in five runs in loss

South Hamilton junior clean-up hitter Cortney Harris (14) is mobbed by her teammates at the plate after her third-inning grand slam against West Marshall on Tuesday in State Center. Harris went 3 for 4 with five RBIs in the Hawks’ 8-5 loss. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

STATE CENTER — Cortney Harris might as well have been in her backyard playing slow-pitch wiffle ball with that jumbo plastic red bat that turns everyone into a home run hitter.

That’s how easy the South Hamilton junior clean-up stick made it look Tuesday night. Whatever she saw, she hit. And she hit it hard.

There was just one problem: So did West Marshall.

Harris put together a career night at the plate, as she went 3 for 4 with a grand slam and five RBIs, but the Trojans deposited two shots out of the park and overcame an early 4-0 deficit to knock off South Hamilton, 8-5.

Renae Schaper and Brooke Snider went yard for West Marshall (16-7), which reeled off seven unearned runs in the fourth inning to take command for good.

South Hamilton right fielder Taylor Ratzke snags a deep fly ball during the first inning against West Marshall in State Center. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Harris finished a triple short of the cycle. And in her last five games she’s hitting .571 (12 for 21) with five extra-base hits.

“I was seeing it well,” Harris said. “The one I hit out was right down the middle.”

Trojans’ starting pitcher Grace Porter grooved it, and Harris put a charge into it. Her third-inning grand slam — her second dinger of the season — to left-center capped a two-out flurry for the Hawks that gave them the early cushion. An error, a single by Kaylee Oskvig and a bean ball to the leg of Marla Grubb set the stage for Harris.

“It was just a nice easy swing and it flew,” Harris, who also doubled into the gap in left-center in the second inning and lined a RBI single in the seventh, said.

South Hamilton (11-14) didn’t have much time to get comfortable with its lead though. West Marshall finally got its bats rolling in the fourth and was aided by a pair of Hawk errors that extended the inning.

South Hamilton’s Kaylee Oskvig (13) jumps past West Marshall catcher Karisa Blocker and scores a run in the seventh inning on Tuesday in State Center. Oskvig went 2 for 4 at the plate and scored two runs in the Hawks’ 8-5 loss to the Trojans. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Schaper broke a 4-4 tie in the fourth when she turned on a Katie Johnson offering and sent it on a ride to left field for a two-run shot. South Hamilton had compounded its problems just moments earlier when it allowed Snider to score all the way from second base on a wild pitch.

“There were a lot of little mistakes, nothing major, that cost us,” South Hamilton head coach Harry McMaken said. “Giving up seven runs that one inning, all unearned and with two outs, that kind of hurt. But again, we can own that, learn from it and move on.”

Snider cranked her ninth home run of the season with one out in the sixth to extend the Trojans’ advantage to 8-4.

South Hamilton turned the seven frame into nail-biting time for West Marshall, as the Hawks loaded the bases with one out after Harris had trimmed it to a three-run game. Lilly Skartvedt took a 3-2 pitch and hammered it into the gap in right-center, but Trojans’ center fielder Kayla Cripps was able to race over and make a leaping catch to save two, perhaps three runs.

“That was a big play for them,” McMaken said. “It’s a game of inches sometimes. A couple of inches further into right field and that’s at least a double, maybe a triple, and two or three runs score.”

South Hamilton catcher Marla Grubb (left) attempts to tag out West Marshall’s Morgan Cripps (18) on a play at the plate on Tuesday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

But South Hamilton had plenty of other chances to put up a crooked number.

A pair of base running flubs in the second inning squashed a scoring threat after Harris and Krista Swenson smacked back-to-back hits with no outs.

South Hamilton packed the bases with just one out in the sixth, but again came up empty. There were eight runners stranded on base in all, five of them in scoring position.

“”We just had a few dumb mistakes,” Harris said.

All seven of the Hawks’ hits came from three players. Swenson went 2 for 3 and Oskvig was 2 for 4.

Hawks’ left fielder Breanne Diersen makes a catch as she tumbles to the turf in State Center on Tuesday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Snider and Schaper both went 2 for 4 for the Trojans.

Johnson took the loss in the circle. She allowed eight hits, but just one earned run, and struck out and walked two.

South Hamilton will close out the regular season at home Friday night when it hosts Greene County at 7 p.m. Then it’s on to next Tuesday’s Class 2A Region 3 quarterfinal showdown against Earlham, in Earlham, at 7 p.m.

McMaken is confident his team can clean up the areas it needs to, and if the Hawks continue to hit the ball the way they have in recent weeks, he has confidence they can make a postseason run.

“All of the girls are hitting the ball really well, that’s a big positive,” he said. “If we just clean up a few minor details, we’ll be fine.”

W. Marshall 8, S. S. Hamilton 5

Tuesday at State Center

S. Ham 004 000 1 — 5 7 3

W. Marsh 000 701 x — 8 8 2

Katie Johnson and Marla Grubb. Grace Porter, Loran Nicholson (3) and Karisa Blocker. W — Nicholson. L — Johnson. 2B — SH: Cortney Harris. HR — SH: Harris; WM: Renae Schaper, Brooke Snider. Multiple hits — SH: Harris (3), Kaylee Oskvig, Krista Swenson; WM: Snider, Schaper. RBI — SH: Harris (5); WM: Snider (2), Schaper (2), Emma Meyer, Kayla Cripps.