By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
The Carlinville High School softball team entered a highly-anticipated conference battle with Gillespie on an 11-game winning streak earlier this week.
In addition to having two pitchers (which also happen to be sisters) in Hannah and Hallie Gibson that are both featured as two of the hottest pitchers in the Illinois High School Association 2A rankings, a surplus of offensive ammo is causing opposing arms and defenses to drop like flies, left and right.
Additionally, Han. Gibson, like many other Cavaliers, has also been red hot as a track athlete. She won first place in the girls’ discus at the Rochester Invite over the weekend.
Carlinville recently soared to the top of the South Central Conference with three statement league victories. The Cavaliers defeated Staunton, which previously beat them in a non-league affair, 6-3.
Carlinville rolled into Litchfield the next day and pummeled the Purple Panthers, 17-3. Olivia Kunz and Addison Ruyle each collected four hits to fuel that onslaught.
The Cavaliers kept their foot on the gas and wreaked havoc on Vandalia at Loveless Park Apr. 21. Carlinville scored twice in each of the first three innings, then erupted for nine tallies to seal a 15-0 win in the fourth. Isabella Tiburzi led the CHS charge with three hits and three RBI, while being one of six Cavalier players to plate at least one run. Hal. Gibson threw a four-hit shoutout.
This wave of consistent play helped Carlinville stay on course in terms of colliding with and eventually surpassing Gillespie for the SCC title. The next step would be to win in ‘Big Orange’ territory, where the Cavaliers gave a valiant effort and lost by just one run a season ago. Heading into that contest, both of the Route 4 rivals were undefeated in league play.
Gillespie’s most recent SCC wins didn’t come as easy, however. The Miners rebounded from a 5-2 Mater Dei loss, stomped Southwestern at home, 15-0, Apr. 18, then sprinted past Greenfield-Northwestern, 21-6, Apr. 19. Then, came a drama-filled weekend.
Emma Gipson connected on a pair of late home runs and fired a nine-strikeout complete game as the Miners held off North Mac at Virden, 3-1, Apr. 21.
On Apr. 24 at Bunker Hill, the Miners were faced with a 1-0 deficit with six outs left to play with. Gillespie didn’t panic and ultimately prevailed over the Minutemaids, 3-2. The Miners tied the game at 1-1 in the sixth, then pulled ahead by two in the seventh before halting a late Bunker Hill rally. Regan Bussmann and Macie Wright each came away with clutch RBIs to help Gillespie steal the road dub. Gipson worked around three Miner errors and struck out 19 batters en route to another complete game.
With all circumstances coupled together, the Apr. 25 head-to-head was viewed as a ‘toss-up’ in the eyes of many fans and viewers of the game. Carlinville entered that showdown 15-3 overall. Gillespie was 14-2.
Carlinville/Gillespie coverage will be featured in next week’s issue.