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Highland Sets Date for Title

High school softball: Bulldogs rout Lancaster, 9-1, to arrange Golden League showdown with Quartz Hill.


LANCASTER — Coach Glenda Potts of Highland High, the Golden League's perennial bridesmaid, had one question after the Bulldogs' 9-1 softball victory over host Lancaster on Tuesday.

"Does anybody know of a wedding I can go to next Tuesday?" she asked.

The victory broke a three-way tie for first place and set up a showdown on Tuesday between Highland (15-6, 7-1 in league play) and Quartz Hill (16-6, 7-1), the four-time defending league champion. The winner will clinch a share of the league title.

Highland has finished second to the Rebels the last three seasons, losing six consecutive times to its nemesis.

The last time the Bulldogs defeated Quartz Hill was in 1998 at the Hart tournament, which Potts missed to attend a wedding.

On Thursday, there was little doubt Highland would get another shot at the title.

The first three Bulldog batters scored in the first inning against right-hander Candy Johnson (6-6). By the third inning, the score was 7-0.

"This was harsh, very disappointing," said first baseman Tara Jensen of Lancaster, which also is seeking its first league championship.

The Eagles (14-10, 6-2) need a Quartz Hill victory on Tuesday for any hope of sharing the league title. Lancaster meets Quartz Hill on Thursday in a league finale.

Pitcher Nichole Rawson (13-6) of Highland hopes the title won't come to that.

"I just want to walk off the field one time against Quartz Hill knowing we're Golden League champions," Rawson said.

In recent games, Rawson has pitched like a champion. She threw a no-hitter last week in a 4-0 victory over Lancaster and combined with Niki Secrease for a five-inning no-hitter Tuesday in an 18-0 victory over Littlerock.

On Thursday, she did not allow a hit until a fourth-inning single by Hillary Degnan. Rawson finished with a three-hitter and four strikeouts.

Rawson retired nine of the first 10 batters, walking Jensen with two out in the first.

Lancaster scored an unearned run in the fourth when the Bulldogs committed errors on three consecutive plays.

Shortstop Natalie Rawson, Nichole's twin, paced Highland's 14-hit attack with two singles, a double and her fourth home run.

Keri Pulcifer had three hits and Nichole Rawson and Ashlie D'Errico each added two hits.

The game was a moral victory of sorts for Lancaster, which lost to the Bulldogs, 10-0, in five innings last month at the High Desert Classic and was outscored, 23-1, in three games this season against Rawson.

"Hey, at least we scored a run against her this time," Coach Kara Johnson said.

Highland had no intention of overlooking the Eagles.

"Quartz Hill meant nothing to us until we beat Lancaster," Nichole Rawson said. "We weren't even thinking about next week until we got the job done today. I'm looking forward to Tuesday now."

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