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Hearld tosses no-hitter in HHS sweep

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Even Hannah Hearld was surprised by what she did on Thursday against Goodland in the Hays High School softball team's season opener.

"I did want to come out and make a statement that I'm back, but I didn't think I would do this well," she said. "I just settled in really fast. The wind was hard to work with today, but it was just an amazing feeling but kind of overwhelming at the same time."

Hearld, a junior, was pitching her first varsity game since her freshman year after tearing her ACL playing basketball in the weeks leading up to what would have been her sophomore season.

All she did in Game 1 of Thursday's doubleheader was throw her first no-hitter in high school, pitching a complete game shutout with 16 strikeouts and a lone walk against 22 batters faced. Hearld also came off the bench to pitch the final four innings of Game 2, giving up two hits and no runs while striking out 10 more batters.

Hays High won both games by scores of 7-0 and 9-2 at the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex.

"Hannah just, man, she just kept Goodland off balance the whole game. They could never really get anything going offensively," Hays High coach Abby Maska said. "Her curve ball, her rise ball, were both working pretty well today. We know she is only going to get better as we go, but for her first game, I think she really caught Goodland's batters by surprise."

The Indians also got three solid innings from sophomore Madison Prough in Game 2. Prough, who also started the junior varsity game on Thursday, gave up two runs and four hits while getting two strikeouts against Goodland.

As impressive as the pitching was for Hays High, Maska was also pleased by the team defense, considering the entire infield outside of pitcher and catcher are sophomores. Hearld was especially thankful, as it took a couple of key plays by the players behind her to preserve the Game 1 no-hitter.

"I think the girls, we were all maybe a little bit nervous starting out, but we all settled in," Hearld said. "My infield, full of sophomores, they stayed strong behind me and made some clutch plays. I think they settled in and the nerves kicked out. They were smiling, playing hard, and it's just really good starting the season off 2-0."

Senior catcher Haley Wells led the offensive effort in Game 1, getting three hits in four at-bats with two RBI. Junior Jenna Luebbers led the Indians with two runs and also had an RBI off of one hit.

Hearld, who was also an effective batter as a freshman, stepped up big in Game 2, getting three hits in four at-bats with two runs and one RBI. Senior center fielder Julie Balzer added two runs and two RBI on two hits.

"With the first game, there are always a lot of question marks going in because you are not really sure where your team is at," Maska said. "As the game went on we settled in and I thought we had some nice hits, but anything that got up, even line drives, just hit that wall of wind and didn't really go anywhere. Our girls did good for being the first game and having to battle the wind a little bit."

The Indians (2-0) next opponent will be Pratt on Thursday in a 4 p.m. doubleheader at the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex.