Southwestern sweeps doubleheader, Gillespie locks up Litchfield
By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
The Staunton High School softball team put a tough week in the rearview mirror and re-discovered its mojo in a key non-conference battle at Carlinville Apr. 3.
The Bulldogs stopped a three-game losing streak with a big 11-7 win over a much-improved bunch of Cavaliers and found a burst of momentum in doing so.
Gianna Bianco generated an unexpected burst of power and sent a three-run moonshot into the Loveless Park sky that ultimately knocked Carlinville ace Hannah Gibson out of the game in the top half of the fourth. This highlighted what was a clutch breakout game in general for Bianco, who ended the day 3-for-4 with 4 RBI. Her mighty swing capped off an eight-run surge that the Bulldogs had put together over the span of just two innings.
After both teams traded a single tally in the opening frame, Staunton put five third inning runs on the board prior to pushing across three more on Bianco’s swipe.
Though the final stretch was rather adverse, Ele Feldmann finished what she started from the rubber. The sophomore allowed four earned runs on 10 hits with a pair of strikeouts over the full seven while helping her own cause by reaching base five times, plating three runs and scoring once in the middle of the SHS order.
Koral Keehner was also seeing the ball well, ripping a pair of doubles and driving in three runs.
Staunton continued building momentum going forward and picked up a pair of ten-run victories, each decided via mercy rule, at home. The Bulldogs made easy work of Lincolnwood, 15-5, Apr. 4 then opened the conference part of its schedule with a 13-3 triumph over Vandalia Apr. 7.
Carlinville also opened its conference campaign with a win. The Cavaliers beat Pana, 5-2, Apr. 7. Freshman Hallie Gibson threw a complete game that included eight strikeouts.
Over the weekend, Carlinville swept a two-game Round Robin at Auburn. Makenah Dugan went 3-for-3 in the first contest and Karly Tipps added two hits. Hannah Gibson hit a solo home run in the third and the Cavaliers defeated Pleasant Hill, 7-6. In game two, Hallie Gibson threw a no-hitter while compiling 13 strikeouts and getting plenty of offensive support. Tipps, Dugan, Olivia Kunz, Addison Ruyle and Kali Robinson all collected multiple hits as part of a 10-run effort.
Staunton and Carlinville are both 7-3 on the season and 1-0 in the South Central Conference. The two rivals will rematch in a league battle at Staunton May 1.
In other action, North Mac extended a winning streak to seven games, Southwestern dominated a doubleheader and Gillespie stifled Litchfield twice in the same week.
North Mac stomped an ailing Sacred Heart-Griffin squad, 11-0, in Springfield Apr. 3, then took down Pana 4-2 Apr.6 and Greenville 10-0 Apr. 7 in conference action.
The star of that stretch was Josie Patterson, who twirled three complete games in a row, including a 17-strikeout no-hitter at SHG.
Offensively, Abby Hendricks has been the ultimate driving force and contributor to what is an 8-1 start to the year for the Panthers. So far, Hendricks is batting .656 with 21 hits, three home runs and 27 RBI. Her on-base percentage is nearly 70 and she has scored 20 times.
Southwestern triggered a four-game winning streak with a 24-0 victory over North Greene Apr. 4. Sydney Valdes went 5-for-5 with five RBI and the Piasa Birds scored 16 runs in the bottom of third. Southwestern bashed Hillsboro, 11-1, in Piasa to open the SCC season Apr. 7, then swept Alton in an Apr. 8 twin bill, 12-6 and 10-1. The Birds are 7-4 overall and 1-0 in league action.
Emma Gipson fired back-to-back masterpieces for the Gillespie Miners against Litchfield.
At Litchfield Apr. 4, Gipson struck out 10 of 15 batters over the course of five shutout frames. She limited the Panthers to one hit and was relieved by Megan Rife, who locked up the first of two shutouts. The Miners, enjoying a slim 1-0 lead at the time, broke the game open with six runs in the top of the fifth and won, 9-0.
Gipson went the distance in the rematch at Ben-Gil Elementary School, tossing a four-hitter and repeating her 10-strikeout performance from three days prior. Regan Bussmann, back in the lineup following recent ACL rehab, was one of three Miners with multi-hit outings. She had two knocks, as did Ava Parish and Lauren Bertagnolli.
Gipson drove in three runs. Gillespie improved to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the SCC following the 5-0 conference victory.