JEFFERSON CITY — Hickman used an explosive first inning to defeat rival Rock Bridge 10-1 Thursday night to advance in the Class 4, District 10 softball tournament.
The Kewpies racked up four hits to go up 6-0 after the first frame and took advantage of two Rock Bridge errors to take the early lead.
Kewpies coach Courtney Haskell said her team was fired up before the game between the rivals.
"They came out swinging, ready to go. They swung at good pitches and they took advantage of players on the defense," Haskell said.
Rock Bridge coach Joe Henderson agreed.
"They (Hickman) came out, hit the ball hard in the top of the first. A few defensive miscues, and it was just too much to recover from. We just ran out of gas," Henderson said.
Hickman cooled off slightly after the first inning, but they still put up at least one run in each of the next three innings.
Hickman held Rock Bridge to a single run thanks to staff ace and senior Taylor Cowan. She contributed a solo home run in the fourth to cap the scoring for the Kewpies.
"We came out swinging and knew that if we did that we could get the win," Cowan said.
Rock Bridge's lone run came on an unusual play.
Bruins batter Melissa Kiehne looked like she had struck out against Cowan. The third strike was dropped by the catcher, forcing a throw to first base.
The throw ricocheted off of Kiehne's helmet as she ran down the base land and bounced into the outfield, allowing Lauren Fuller to score from first base. After Fuller scored, Kiehne was thrown out at third base to end the inning.
The Rock Bridge team looked rattled at times, a consequence of having a very young team.
"Tonight, we finally showed our youth in our 28th game," Henderson said.
In an effort to slow the Hickman attack, Rock Bridge took an unusual approach to pitching. Fuller, the team's primary pitcher, saw little action. Seldom-used Danielle Linnemen got the start, and Amber Beeler also saw action.
"Danielle and Amber have been underutilized, and it was their turn to go," Henderson said.
The Bruins cycled their available pitchers in each of the last few innings, looking for the solution to Hickman's offense. The Bruins eventually calmed down and found their composure, not allowing a Kewpie score in the last two full innings.
It was too late, though.
"You spot a team nine or ten runs, with Taylor (Cowan) pitching... That's a tough hole," Henderson said.
Hickman will play Jefferson City tonight for the Class 4, District 10 Championship at 6:00 pm on Duensing Field in Jefferson City.