DU QUOIN — A six-run rally in the sixth inning led Goreville to an 8-3 win over Du Quoin.
It was a battle between a couple senior pitchers early on in the game. The Blackcats pitched their ace Cheyenne Walker, who finished with five strikeouts in seven innings of work.
“I’m ecstatic that she went the full seven innings,” said Goreville coach Shanna Green. “We’ve got about three pitchers this year that we’re going to try and put in the rotation. This is what we’re expecting, we’re wanting them to try and get to that seventh inning and work their way out of any pickles they get in and she did a great job not getting frustrated with some of those errors behind her.”
Goreville’s defense committed three errors against Du Quoin, with one of those coming in the first inning. After a one out walk to Meryn Gross, Morgan Bullar hit a ground ball to third baseman Payton Sopczak that was misplayed, allowing Gross to come around and score to put the Indians up early.
“I’m a huge defensive person so I get extremely frustrated when we start making errors,” said Green. “I told my players that I’m trying to relax a little bit because it’s early and it happens.”
Walker was able to strand Bullar at third base when she struck out Maci McKinnies on a full count to get out of the inning.
Chloe Hill was in the pitching circle for the Indians. Sopczak led off the inning with a bloop single to left field to give the Indians a spark on offense. Sopczak then stole second and advanced to third after Indians catcher McKinnies over threw second on the throw down. That brought up senior Alexandria King, who brought the run in with a ball that went through the legs of second baseman Gross to tie the game at one a piece.
“One of the things we need to work on is being a little bit more focused on the defensive side of the ball,” said Du Quoin coach Jason James. “Not just the errors, but also knowing where to throw the ball in some situations and knowing who to get it to, but we’ll work on it and try to learn from some of our mistakes.”
The game remained tied until Du Quoin tacked on a second run in the fourth inning. McKinnies drew the walk for the Indians and was replaced by courtesy runner Maya Russell. Chloe Hess reached first on a hit by pitch to put Indians at first and second. Walker struck out the next batter to bring up Olivia Whitley who hit a hard ground ball through the second baseman’s legs to score Russell from second.
Goreville answered back at the top of the fifth. After leadoff base hits by the no. 8 and 9 hitters, Sopczak hit a ground ball up the middle that deflected off the shortstop's glove to bring Adrianna Licka around to tie the game at 2-2.
Walker and the defense made quick work at the bottom of the inning when second baseman Kelsey Ray caught a line drive with one out and then delivered a strike to second base to tag the runner and turn the inning-ending double play.
The game was decided in the sixth inning when Gorevlle erupted for six runs, as they batted around the order. After three runs had already come around to score, King delivered the nail in the coffin with a three-run double to left center field.
“It was a good spot for her to be in to have the bases loaded,” said Green. “We talk all the time about trying to produce those runs early on versus waiting until the fifth or sixth inning. That’s kind of been our forte over the last couple of years.”
Nine of the Blackcats' eleven hits on the game came in the fifth and sixth inning. Sopczak finished 3 for 4 from the leadoff spot and King finished 2 for 2 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Hill pitched a complete game for the Indians with three strikeouts and a pair of walks.
Katie Smith finished 2 for 4 at the plate for Du Quoin, while Hess finished 1 for 3 in a game where the Indians left eight players on base.