PEORIA — Sydney Parkerson and her Highland High softball teammates were in a hurry on Thursday morning.
"If the first pitch is good, go after it," Parkerson said.
The Bulldogs followed that rule to perfection.
Parkerson kick-started a four-run uprising in the opening inning to lead Highland to an 8-1 win over Sterling in a Class 3A softball state semifinal at the Louisville Slugger Softball Complex.
Highland (24-1) will face Lemont (28-4) in the title game at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
The Bulldogs will be searching for their first state championship in their initial final four appearance.
Parkerson led a 14-hit assault with a pair of two-run hits. She also singled in two in a four-explosion in the fourth.
Highland needed just 11 pitches to take a 3-0 lead as the first three hitters reached safely and scored.
Maci Miles and Emma Strubinger singled to start the game. Parkerson followed with a double into the gap in left center. Miener added a hit for a 3-0 cushion. Faith Hickam completed the blitz with single.
Parkerson and Miener added big blows in the fourth.
Hickam, Miener, Parkerson, Strubinger, Miles and Bre Habermehl had two hits each.