HHS softball firing on ‘all cylinders’

Lady Bulldogs force mercy rule on Billings Central for first home win in years

Photo by Andrew Turck

Hardin player Cora Wood dashes to first base last Thursday evening during a softball game against the Billings Central Rams. The Lady Bulldogs defeated the Rams 12-2 in the sixth inning.

Photo by Andrew Turck

Kelly Feller of the Lady Bulldogs calls out a team play as pitcher Demi Uffelman prepares to face a new batter on the softball field.

It was the bottom of the sixth last Thursday evening on one of the first sunny spring days of 2018 as Hardin’s Lady Bulldog softball team claimed not only their first home game victory in about five years, but also their first win via the mercy rule. By the time Hardin player Nicole Green crossed to home plate, bringing the score 12-2 in the Ladies’ favor, her teammates were ecstatic. With the 10-point lead, the game was cut short before the seventh inning.

“They’re so loud right now,” Hardin Head Coach Sarah DeVore said happily from the field as nearby cheers from the Ladies drowned her out. “Obviously, you can tell they’re really excited.”

The Hardin team had begun their sixth turn up to bat against the Billings Central Rams with a 6-2 lead and two strikeouts. Despite having only one out left for the inning, the Ladies managed to load the bases and double their score.

Demi Uffelman, who served as pitcher for Hardin, said her team has improved in “all aspects of the game,” especially in batting abilities. To pull ahead from a 1-2 deficit in the fourth inning, Hardin players Natalie Edgar and Kelly Feller hit back-to-back doubles, starting a chain that would bring the Ladies up 5-2 before the Rams could get three outs.

“We’ve been struggling in the past with getting our bats going and continuing it,” Uffelman said, “but we kept the bats going the entire game.”

As for pitching, Uffelman said she has been perfecting her throws since the end of volleyball season in November 2017. Where her time on the volleyball court required powerful strikes, the softball field favored what DeVore referred to as “spin and wrist snaps.” According to DeVore, Uffelman has improved on this circular arm and wrist motion used for her softball serve.

To start the second inning, Uffelman struck out two Central players with seven serves for six strikes and one ball. The last player connected to her final throw with the bat, but the ball flew straight up, before falling into the mitt of Hardin’s catcher.

“Demi has gotten way better,” DeVore said. “She’s put in a lot of work in the off-season, and we’re working hard with her and it’s definitely paying off.

“That’s what dominated it today.”

Currently, the Ladies have three wins and five losses in their conference, but DeVore has faith in her team. On April 20, she said, the Ladies defeated the Laurel Locomotives “for the first time in history,” bringing the game to the eighth inning with a final score of 11-8. Around that time last year, Hardin lost to Laurel 2-14.

“We’ve seen [potential] all season in the girls already, and we were just waiting for those right moments to click,” DeVore said. “Tonight, all cylinders of the game – offense, defense, pitching, dugout cheering – they were on top of it.”

Hardin’s next competition will be a home game against the Sidney Eagles scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 3.

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