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Prep softball: Fairfield celebrates milestone with doubleheader sweep

Fairfield High School’s softball team put in some high-quality work on a day that featured a program milestone.

The Indians dominated on their home diamond Tuesday with a doubleheader sweep, blanking Greater Miami Conference rival Hamilton 10-0 in six innings and Dixie Heights (Ky.) 11-0 in five innings.

The opener marked the 1,000th game in Fairfield softball history. After rolling past the visitors from the Bluegrass State, the Indians’ all-time record stood at 713-288.

PREP BASEBALL: Monroe 10, Franklin 4

“I won’t be around for 2,000,” said Fairfield coach Brenda Stieger, in her 22nd season at the helm. “I couldn’t be prouder being part of the program. I took over a program in fantastic shape, and it’s been a pleasure to be around for as many games as I have and knowing the coaches from the past. There’s only been four of us, so it’s a good feeling.”

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A few statistical tidbits from the Indians’ history:

» Their four head coaches have been Monica Mitter (29-40, 1979-82), Bill Stewart (173-75, 1983-92), Kathy Stewart (77-23, 1993-96) and Stieger (434-150, 1997-present).

» Their last losing season came in 1986 (12-15).

» They have never finished lower than sixth in the GMC.

» They have played in 111 run-rule games, winning 102 of them.

» They are 52-29 against Hamilton and have won 15 of the last 16 meetings.

“It was good that the 1,000th game was against Hamilton,” Stieger said. “Even though we’ve come out on top in recent years, we’ve battled in regional games against each other and regular GMC games against each other. It’s great to have coaches like Steve Heckman in our league and a very good rivalry between two very close communities.”

Fairfield, 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the conference, rolled over Big Blue in six innings and got a two-hitter from Taylor Delk.

Lindsey Mitchell was 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs for the Indians. Maiah Hodge was 3-for-3, Rhiana Hubbard doubled twice and drove in two runs, Karlee Mills plated a pair of runs, and Delk added a double, a single and an RBI. Jordan Shotwell and Natalie Elliott also drove in a run apiece.

Mitchell, a junior, said Fairfield is usually plagued by one bad inning per game, such as the seven-run second inning in last week’s 7-0 loss to Lakota East. But that didn’t happen Tuesday.

“Today I felt like we came out strong and continued strong,” Mitchell said. “Our defense was pretty good today, our hitting was good from top to bottom, and our pitching was solid with Taylor. I think we just have a solid defense and offense right now.”

Hamilton (2-4, 1-4) could only manage singles by Mya Halcomb and Natalie Francis. Autumn Griffie pitched the first 4.2 innings to take the loss.

“We’re in a learning phase,” Heckman said. “We have exactly one player (Griffie) playing the position they played last year with any varsity experience.

“With that said, that was Game 6. The plays that we need to make, it’s time to start making them. We’re playing on our heels a little bit. Just a half step slow, a half step not sure where we’re throwing, and it shows. They come out and get two runs right way and it’s like, ‘Here we go.’ ”

He remains optimistic that HHS can be a solid team by the time the Division I tournament starts.

“We’re not going to knock the socks off the ball, but I think we can move it,” Heckman said. “We’ve got some kids at the top of the order that can hit pretty well. They’re as good as anybody.”

Fairfield continued to swing the bat well against Dixie Heights (3-2-1), putting up three runs in the first inning. Mitchell delivered a five-inning two-hitter.

Natalie Barrett doubled, lifted two sacrifice flies and drove in four runs for the Indians. Shotwell was 2-for-2 with a solo homer and three runs, Hubbard had two hits and RBI, and Hannah Miller and Hodge plated two runs each.

“You don’t know how a game like this is going to be,” Stieger said. “The kids are in school all day, so most of them were up at 6:30 this morning. You’re asking them to put in a 12-hour day, which is tough. But the girls were amped and excited even toward the end of this game. That enthusiasm was a good, positive thing for us.”

The visitors got singles from Maggie Fields and Mylee Eldridge in a performance Colonels coach Sarah Osborne said “was not the Dixie ball that I know.”

“It was a dud,” she admitted. “Right now, we’re just trying to keep things in perspective that every season is a marathon and not a sprint. Me being a new head coach, I’m learning that.

“All but two of my players who started tonight are juniors and seniors, so we are very experienced. I’m just trying to find a way to motivate my team and get them where we need to be at the end of May, which is the target.”

Osborne said Fairfield was impressive.

“As I pointed out to my girls, they’re a well-oiled unit,” she said. “It’s something that I find motivational as a coach to want to strive for with my team. I know the coach at Fairfield has been around for a long time. She’s got that experience, so I’m just trying to learn from that and hopefully adjust to what Dixie needs.”

On Wednesday, Dixie Heights will travel to Grant County (Ky.), Hamilton will host Lakota West and Fairfield will be at home against Mason.

“It’s a very big one for us, and we tend to play well against Mason,” Stieger said. “I can remember a time back in the day when Mason was the farm community, the small school. But they’ve built themselves into a real powerhouse in the area and state. I think it brings out the best in us when we play them.”

Hamilton 000-000—0-2-1

Fairfield 221-041—10-14-1

WP — Taylor Delk (3-0); LP — Autumn Griffie (2-3). Records: H 2-4, 1-4 GMC; F 5-1, 5-1 GMC

Dixie Heights 000-00—0-2-3

Fairfield 305-3x—11-9-0

WP — Lindsey Mitchell (2-1); LP — Brianna Smith (3-2); HR — F: Jordan Shotwell. Records: DH 3-2-1, F 6-1

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