Hannah Hart is affectionately nicknamed "Heart Attack.''|
"She always seems to make things exciting for me,'' explained Rock Island High School softball coach Steve Ebner.
However, the junior pitcher gave Ebner a more pleasing thrill ride Friday, hurling the Rocks to a Western Big 6 Conference doubleheader sweep of Quincy, 8-7 in a Game 1 comeback before invoking the mercy rule, 10-0 in a five-inning nightcap at Rocky's Frances Willard Field.
Hart, who came on in relief trailing 6-4 in the opener, limited the visitors to three hits and an unearned run in nine innings of work in the two games.
"I was scared to death, because (No. 1 pitcher) Morgan (McCready) came to me and said she was sick,'' Ebner said. "She went out and tried, but she was pretty weak.
"And then, Hannah has a pinched nerve in her shoulder, so I didn't know how long she would go. So we had (sophomore) Kaelan Bradley ready to go. She's going to be a good pitcher, and I thought at least halfway through the second game we'd be putting her in, but Hannah just kept going.
"She did a great job. This was by far her best game. Great for her. We don't have a kid in our program who worked harder in the offseason than Hannah, so I'm happy for her. She really deserves it.''
Hart (4-3) won both ends of the twinbill thanks to Rocky's comeback in the opener.
The Rocks (7-9, 4-4 Big 6) scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, with RBI singles by Hailey Feldhahn and Kyrstin Plohr bookending a two-run, two-out, game-tying double by Jasmine Ragusi.
"What a big hit,'' Ebner said of Ragusi's clutch knock.
The Rocky catcher was oblivious to the situation, though, with Quincy (3-11, 1-7) building a 7-4 lead on four errors, four unearned runs, four sacrifice bunts, three walks and two hit batters.
"Big hit? Which one?'' Ragusi said seriously before being reminded of the gravity of the double. "Sorry, we try and not think about the situation. So I really didn't know the inning. If I had, I'd have been a lot more nervous. Instead, we just turn off our brains and only think about hitting the ball, and the results seem to end up a lot better.''
Ragusi and Plohr both finished 3-for-3, combining for five RBIs in the opener. Plohr also knocked in a run in the nightcap for four RBIs on the day.
"The pressure was off after Jazz's hit,'' Plohr admitted. "But we have this thing as a team, when we get in the batter's box, we have an off button on our helmets, and we don't worry about anything except making contact. Focus on the process, not the outcome. If we focus on our fundamentals, the rest takes care of itself. If we think about the situation, you get stressed out and things break down.''
For the doubleheader, Feldhahn also had two hits and two RBIs, including a leadoff homer in the nightcap. Courtney Pearson added two hits and three RBIs in the sweep for the Rocks, who played the doubleheader early to accommodate Quincy's prom.
Hannah Reller led the Blue Devils with three hits, a run and an RBI from the leadoff spot in Game 1. In the nightcap, Quincy committed four errors, walked six batters and hit four others -- including Ashlyn Mumma three times.