MURPHYSBORO — On the seventh day, they’ll rest. Oh boy, will they rest.
“It’s been a long week,” Murphysboro third baseman Karlye Happold said. “Between the rest of today and Sunday, I think we’ll be back on our feet and ready to go by Monday.”
Finishing up a week in which they played six games, including an emotional rout of Massac County on Friday, the Red Devils played like a tired, flat team in their non-conference doubleheader Saturday. Belleville East took advantage, doubling its win total for the season with a 13-0, 10-8 sweep.
While it fell to 15-6 on the season, Murphysboro still controls its fate in SIRR Ohio, where it owns first place with a 5-1 record. The Red Devils pounded Harrisburg 8-3 on Monday and short-gamed Massac County 16-2 on Friday to climb atop the ladder.
So coach Kim Brown, while wishing her team would have played better against the 4-10 Lancers, was certainly willing to give them a hall pass for this one.
“We had one of our biggest games of the year against Massac County,” she said. “We came out crazy excited and they were ready to play. It’s hard to come back after that. These girls have played so hard and they haven’t caved under pressure, but today, they just didn’t have it.”
Murphysboro came into the twinbill missing a total of five players for various reasons, including ACT testing. One player arrived during the doubleheader, but the Red Devils lost another one during the opener as shortstop Malorie Gill left with a knee injury. She didn’t play in the nightcap.
The absence of Gill was notable in the nightcap as Murphysboro made three errors, the last thing it needed against an opponent which scored in every inning during the opener and five of seven innings during the nightcap.
The Red Devils led 8-7 going into the seventh inning of game two, but Lexi Williams cracked a solo homer to center to tie it. With the bases loaded and two outs, catcher Abby Gray grounded a two-run single up the middle for Belleville East.
Happold could have tied it when she stepped to the plate after a two-out single by Emily Roberts, but grounded to short, enabling Stephanie Bigham to notch her second win of the day. Still, on a day where the Red Devils just couldn’t figure out a way, Happold starred.
In the doubleheader, Happold went 4 for 7 with five RBI, blasting a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth in game two to give Murphysboro a short-lived 6-4 lead. Making that bomb more remarkable was that Happold didn’t appear to square the ball up perfectly.
It was the sixth homer this year for the sophomore, who also chipped in a pair of terrific plays defensively. Happold has grooved her stroke through training sessions with her father, as well as former Miners star Ralph Santana.
“I just go up there thinking, ‘I’m going to hit,’ and it’s worked so far,” Happold said. “It doesn’t matter how many strikes I have, I have the mentality that I’m going to hit no matter what.”
The Red Devils, who have scored 10 runs or more in 10 different games this year, suffered their first shutout in the opener. Bigham held them to three hits, relying on a defense that showcased plenty of athleticism in running down a spate of hard-hit balls.
Murphysboro banged out 12 hits in the nightcap and held four different leads, but just couldn’t keep the Lancers off the scoreboard.
Now comes a day of rest for a team that deserves it.
“Give them a day off,” Brown said, “and they’ll come back ready on Monday.”