Hillsboro softball’s pitching tandem of Allison Weber and Julie Sinclair is tight. They did all their training together as they grew up in the sport and always played together.
“There has never been, since the beginning, any kind of jealousy between them,” said Hillsboro coach Stephanie Sinclair, Julie’s mother. “They know they’ll back each other up. That’s what you do when you’re friends — you support each other, encourage each other.”
Hillsboro opened the season at 12-0, with Weber and Julie Sinclair each throwing six games. Heading into Friday’s doubleheader with Pratt, where Hillsboro got a split, Sinclair’s ERA was at 0.90, Weber’s at 1.20.
“Allison throws a little faster, and she’s right-handed,” Stephanie Sinclair said. “Maybe she doesn’t throw quite as much junk, but she has a nice changeup. Julie is left-handed, not quite as fast as Allison, but she throws more junk. She throws a curveball, changeup a little bit more than Allison.”
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Hillsboro also has two catchers, and there’s no specific rotation on what pitcher Bradli Nowak and Madison Klein catch. They play second when they’re not catching.
Nowak hits .610 and has 36 RBIs and five home runs, while Klein hits .615 with 13 stolen bases. Shortstop Danae Bina hits .703 and has 14 stolen bases. Weber hits .558 with 16 stolen bases, Emily Jost .622 and Sinclair .472.
Hillsboro won the Class 3A title in 2012, but lost in the 2013 regional finals. Hillsboro dropped down to 2-1A this season.
70 runs — Independent and Belle Plaine combined for 70 runs in a 40-30 Independent win. The game lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes and the second game of the doubleheader was not played.
“It’s something I’ve never experienced in 20 years of being around the game,” Independent coach Megan Davison said. “I think both teams and both schools are in a rebuilding process. I’ll speak on behalf of my team, we have three young pitchers who have never thrown before. Our hitting, we can put up some runs, but our defense is the big work in progress.”
Independent has a softball team for the first time since 2010.
“I’m beyond excited to get the program started again,” Davison said. “… We’ve been pushing for it. Right now it’s a lot of growing pain,s and we’ll get through it.”
Davison said she has four or five players with previous experience, but they last played in fifth grade.
Teaching together — Kapaun coach John Cherne raves about his team “teaching each other” and “taking ownership.
A specific example occurred April 29 with senior first baseman Liz Dwyer.
“We were down in the first inning against Heights and she pulls the outfield in, got the whole team together,” Cherne said. “We went on to win 17-13, then won the second game 17-2.
“We have a couple of girls who haven’t played before. And the girls are teaching them how to bat, throw the ball, catch the ball. You know the team has bought in when they are teaching other players before I have a chance to say something. They’re making the corrections, they’re doing the coaching. They bought in.”
Kapaun, which is 10-2 overall and 8-2 in the City League, has seen strong seasons by centerfielder Lily Channel and Dwyer. Freshmen Alli Heiman (second base and right field) and Ally Gardner (third base) have also contributed, along with junior shortstop Adrienne Esposito.
Sophomore Molly McNeil had a key two-run home run in the Game 1 win over Heights on April 29.
Senior pitcher Baily Holm and freshman pitcher Kody Ross have also been solid.
Kapaun has 19 players in the program, not including two players who broke a foot this season.
“When basketball was going on in January, they started getting in the weight room,” Cherne said. “There’s a confidence, the girls are stronger and it’s because they took ownership in January.”
City League unbeatens meet — Northwest and Carroll meet Tuesday at Two Rivers Youth Club in a doubleheader that likely will decide the City League title. Both are unbeaten.
It’s a fascinating matchup considering the firepower in both lineups.
Carroll, the three-time defending Class 5A champion, shared the league title with Northwest in 2013 and won it outright in 2012 and 2011.
Carroll has shared the title with Northwest three times since 2004 and won it outright four times in that span. Northwest has won or shared the title five times since 2004. Kapaun won in 2003, the only time neither Carroll nor Northwest shared or won the City League title in that time period.
As for that firepower, Carroll had 12 home runs in a doubleheader against South on April 29. Both games were run-rule wins, lasting three innings.
Northwest also has home run hitters, including Erica Edison, who had three homers in a doubleheader against Kapaun.
“We’re going to keep it low in the zone and hope they can hit a lto of ground balls and try not to float it in the power zone,” Northwest coach Cody Stucky said. “We want to work spots and try to get corners. If you have to pitch around a girl in certain situations, then we can do that.”
Carroll is led on the mound by Jessi Haffner and Brittany Finney, while Northwest’s pitchers are Mary Henning and Alex Jennings.
“This team is pretty legitimate,” Stucky said of the Grizzlies. “It’s a good test to go up against Carroll and see some really good pitching.”