By Mike Monahan

Karah Moore allowed only one earned run in 12 1/3 innings and Ashlyn McPeak ripped a homer among her six hits Saturday afternoon to secure two wins in a rare tripleheader at Karch Field.

The Trojans beat Arcola to open the season and then split a doubleheader with Normal University.

Ashlyn McPeak went 6-for-12 overall, scoring five runs and driving in three while Reagan McGahey went 3-for-8, drove in four runs and scored three.

Moore, meanwhile, started the opening game and entered midway through the final game to one-hit Normal over the final 4 1/3 innings in a 10-3 win. The sophomore allowed 11 hits, struck out 13 and walked three overall. 

Charleston will play host to Champaign Central Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in another non-conference game. 

“The bats were quiet in the second game,” said Charleston coach Blain Mayhall of the team’s 12-5 defeat. “That was really the difference between coming out 3-0 or 2-1. The last game was a complete game. Our defense was solid, our base running was good. I know we hit into a few double plays or got thrown out, but we want to be aggressive and so I don’t have a problem with that at all. Our pitching was fantastic. I can’t say enough about the three sophomores who threw a lot of innings today. They all did great.”

All three games came as a result of Champaign Centennial canceling a scheduled doubleheader Friday morning. 

“I sent about 50-75 emails, calling schools, even ones in the Terre Haute, Indiana area,” said Mayhall. “Two teams got back to me. Normal University was a little bit late in getting back to me. So we were just planning on playing the one against Arocla. I appreciate Normal University for traveling all of this way (hour and 45 minutes)and giving up their Saturday to do that.”

Mayhall said Charleston played three games in showcase events in Metamora a few years ago, but not all in a row. This was more reminiscent of a travel softball schedule.

“It is early and we are going to be just fine,” Mayhall said. “Normal University is a really, really good team. We talk about that-the girls and the coaches I will never apologize for putting good competing on our schedule. We need to do that and it doesn’t hurt us at all.  I was proud of them for stepping up to that challenge.“

Here is a breakdown of the three games, citing the most recent games first.

Charleston 10, Normal University 3

Charleston trailed Normal University 3-2 after an inning and a half. 

The Class 3A Pioneers won a sectional title in 2018 and has posted 20-plus game seasons in seven of the last 10 years. 

Addison Sharder started the inning with a leadoff single and stole second. Maci Mayhall followed with another single putting runners on first and third when the Trojans executed a double steal to perfection as Mayhall stole second and Sharder stole home on the play to deadlock the game at three. 

On a 1-2 count, McPeak reached on an error by the shortstop. With two outs and runners on second and third after a passed ball, McGahey gave Charleston the lead for good with a double to left field, scoring Mayhall and McPeak for a 5-3 advantage. 

In the third, the Trojans scored with two outs when Emily Davis singled to right, scoring Shrader. 

Moore took over pitching and only allowed one hit in 4 1/3 innings she pitched with five strikeouts and one walk. She retired nine straight before Jen Kuhn singled with two outs in the seventh. 

“Karah Moore pitched really, really well and she pitched a lot of innings,” said Mayhall. “So, I was glad to see that.”

Charleston added four insurance runs in the sixth and it started with the no. 9 batter in Erin Blair, who smacked a double into left. 

““We were going into the bottom of the sixth and I told them, ‘Let’s get us a couple more so we feel a little more comfortable with a bigger lead’ and they responded to that,” said Mayall. “Erin (Blair) had been pretty hard on herself all day and to lead off that inning with a double that was big. It gave her a little bit of confidence and then we just kept hitting; kind of trading spots from home to second and put a few more runs and gave our pitchers a little more breathing room in the top of the seventh. It was nice to see them bounce back and get those bats going again.”

Normal1200000 –363
Charleston231004x – 10131

CHARLESTON pitching: Moore 4 1/3 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk; Starter: Wilson 2 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 0 earned, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks

NORMAL pitching: Maddie Adams 5 innings, 13 hits, 10 runs, 6 earned, 2 strikeouts, walk; Kuhn 1 inning, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 strikeouts, 1 walk

NORMAL: Knight 1-for-3, RBI; Kuhn 2-for-4, RBI; Blemier run; Adams 1-for-2; Woodward 2-for-3, double, RBI; Macy Petelin run; Payton McClellan run

CHARLESTON: McPeak 2-for-4, double, 3 runs, RBI; Wilson 1-for-3, home run, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; McGahey 2-for-4, 2 doubles, stolen base, run, 3 RBIs; Stevens 1-for-3; Moore 1-for-3, double, sacrifice fly, RBI; Shrader 3-for-4, stolen base, 2 runs; Mayhall 1-for-3, stolen base, run; Blair 1-for-2, double, run; Emily Davis 1-for-1, RBI

Normal University 12, Charleston 5

The Pioneers led 5-1 after putting up four runs in the fourth, but Charleston tied the game in the home half of the fifth. Blair started things by reaching base on an error. McPeak singled to left as did Wilson to load the bases. McGahey walked to force in Blair, McPeak scored on an error and Stevens drove in two runs with a double to the gap in left/center, prompting Normal to bring in a new pitcher who retired all nine batter she faced. 

“We had that one big innings where we tied it up, but we just could not get much going,” said Mayhall “We saw the same pitchers in game three so it wasn’t new. We can’t just do one inning where the bats get going. We got to be more consistent and we did  that a little more in the last game.”

Normal (2-2) scored five runs in the sixth and never lost the lead. Normal lost to Bloomington Central Catholic 9-6 and beat East Peoria 19-6 last week. 

Normal1004052 –12142
Charleston1000400 – 553

NORMAL pitching: Jen Kuhn 4 innings, 5 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned, 3 strikeouts, 4 walks; Maddie Adams 3 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 strikeout, 0 walks

CHARLESTON pitching: Mikayla Lane 3 innings, 7 hits, 7 runs, 3 earned, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk; Starter: Moore 4 innings, 7 hits, 5 runs, 1 earned, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks

NORMAL: Abby Knight 2-for-3, 2 home run, 4 runs, 3 RBIs; Jen Kuhn 1-for-5, run; Lauryn Blemier 4-for-5, run, stolen base,3 RBIs; Maddie Adams 1-for-5, sacrifice fly, run, RBI; Maddie Woodward 1-for-4, run, RBI; Kylee Isaac sacrifice, RBI; Brooke Codray 3-for-4, run, RBI; Maddie Shierholz run; Avery Benner 2-for-3, 2 runs, sacrifice, RBI

CHARLESTON: McPeak 3-for-4 2 runs, RBI; Wilson 1-for-4, run; McGahey run, RBI; Stevens 1-for-4, 2 RBIs; Blair run

Charleston 11, Arcola 1, six innings

Ava Stephens hit a two-run homer in the first and Charleston never trailed afterward.

Arcola scored its only run when Lincoln College-bound KayLee Hohlbauch smacked a leadoff home run in the sixth. 

“I had to make sure we had nine players before I told Charleston we would play,” said Arcola coach Cara Roberts. “We were missing four or five girls because there was nothing on the schedule originally. I thought we played well for it being our first game against a really good team. We played with them until the fifth.”

Arcola000001 –148
Charleston220043 –11112

Pitching: Kailyn Wilson 2 innings, 1 hit, 1 run, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks; Karah Moore 4 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts, 0 walks.

Arcola pitching: KayLee Hohlbuach 5.3 innings, 11 hits, 11 runs, 7 earned, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk

ARCOLA: Kaylee Hohlbauch 1-for-3, run, home run, RBI; Delaney Melton 1-for-2, stolen base; Ariana Warren 1-for-3; Kiera Hohlbauch 1-for-2

CHARLESTON: Ashlyn McPeak 1-for-4, RBI, stolen base; Kailyn Wilson 1-for-4, double; Reagan McGahey 1-for-3, run, 2 stolen bases;  Ava Stephens 2-for-4, home run, 3 runs, 2 RBIs; Clara Cox 2-for-4; Erin Blair run; Karah Moore 2-for-4, double, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Addison Sharder 1-for-3, triple, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, stolen base; Maci Mayhall 1-for-2, RBI, sacrifice