Have faith, will travel.
Hastings High’s softball team will be counting on the likes of hard-throwing senior right-hander Faith Molina to help get them to the state tournament this year. On Tuesday, she showed that belief to be well founded.
Molina struck out 13 McCook batters over five innings to lead the Tigers past the Bison, 8-0, in a mercy rule shortened contest at Smith Complex. She walked two and struck out the side three times while surrendering just three hits to finish what she started for the 16-1 Tigers. McCook slipped to 5-11.
“I felt like I was placing the ball pretty well,” Molina said. “I just wanted to hit my spots and let my defense do the work.
“I feel like our bats have really come around this season. Our defense needs a little work but our hitting can come through at any time.”
After going down 1-2-3 in the first inning, the Tiger offense did just that, with right fielder Emma Landgren delivering a clutch three-run home run to straightaway center field to give Molina and her mates something to build on in the second inning. The Tigers batted around twice in the contest, scoring four runs in the second and fourth innings to score the knockout blow.
Tiger head coach Ashley Speak would have liked to see her team strike sooner, but it wasn’t what she would have considered something to worry about.
“I wish I got nervous a little bit but I don’t,” she said. “These kids know how to rally and put the ball in play and they usually take care of business. I’m happy with the way we played but there’s always things we can work on.”
Pitching doesn’t appear to be one of them at this point.
“(Molina) does a great job on the mound,” Speak said. “She’s a battler and she’s going to help us win a lot of games. And if she can’t go we always have Peytin Hudson in backup or vice versa, so it’s nice to have that combo. They both do a nice job dominating the zone and bring different things to the plate.”
Landgren added a double on top of her three-run jack to lead the Tiger attack, with Molina contributing to her own cause with a double.
“Emma has been hitting the ball well,” Speak said. “She hit it well last weekend and mades some nice adjustments in practice working on a few things, just staying above the ball. You can see it: she’s had three home runs in the past three games.”
Though opportunities were few and far between, the Tiger defense seemed to rise to the occasion, committing just one error on the day. Speak said such improvement will need to be the norm going forward to keep the team on track in its pursuit of a state title run.
“It’s something we have to hone in on,” she said. “I think our offense will go as our defense goes, so that’s the one area we’re just going to have to keep hammering on as long as we can.”
MCK (5-11).............000 00x x — 0 3 1
HHS (16-1)..............040 4xx x – 8 7 1
W — Faith Molina. L — Jada Berry.
2B — M, Graci Nelson; H, Peytin Hudson, Emma Landgren, Faith Molina
HR — H, Emma Landgren.