By Kyle Daubs
It’s only the second week of the Apollo Conference season, yet it feels like the championship game is already here.
Effingham (6-1, 1-0 in the Apollo) travels to Karch Field on Saturday to take on Charleston (9-1, 1-0).
Before the season began, coaches around the conference believed that both Effingham and Charleston could contend for the title.
Both teams have started strongly.
Charleston is coming off a doubleheader sweep of Teutopolis while Effingham comes to town on a six-game winning streak. Effingham’s bats have been hot as of late, recording a 10-1 win over Lincoln and an 18-1 win over Neoga. In the conference opener, Effingham defeated Lincoln, 3-1.
Effingham is hitting over .300, averaging nine runs a game.
Said Effingham coach Jerry Trigg: “Jaidi Davis and Taylor Armstrong have both been very good in the circle.”
Charleston will send sophomore Karah Moore back to the mound to quiet the Hearts’ bats. Moore is 7-0 with a 1.14 earned run average, 14 walks, 47 strikeouts in 55 innings.
“Karah has been superb for us this year,” said CHS coach Blain Mayhall. “She continues to move the ball really well and keep hitters off balance. She doesn’t let things get to her and has complete trust in her teammates to make plays behind her. Those are all pretty important qualities for a pitcher.”
Charleston’s offense has produced 37 runs in its last four games.
Ashlyn McPeak is hitting .553, going 21-of-38, and has a .921 slugging percentage. The senior is tied with sophomore Kailyn Wilson with two home runs. Ava Stephens leads the team with 11 runs batted in and is hitting .441 on the season. Reagan McGahey is 15-of-33, batting .500 for the season and slugging .848.
“Reagan, along with Ashlynn and Ava, have taken on that leadership role, which really shows up offensively,” said Mayhall. “They know what is needed from them for our team to be successful. They probably feel like they can do more at times. If they do, it will be really exciting to watch. All of the girls are doing a great job getting on base and giving others a chance to knock them in. We seem to have two to three girls per day have a great game offensively. The key for us is to have 6-7 of them put it together on a daily basis to ensure that consistency we are looking for offensively.”
Taylor Armstrong paces Effingham’s offense, recently hitting two home runs in a 10-1 win over Lincoln. Jodie Davis added a home run in the series while Emma Hardiek also belted a home run against Neoga. Davis’ pitching stats are unavailable, but could be the team’s ace starting in the conference counting contest.
“Effingham is always a quality opponent, much like everyone in our conference,” said Mayhall. “I’ve known Jodie for several years now. She is a competitor and hates to lose. She takes that attitude into the circle with her which will always make them a tough team to beat. They always hit well and are good defensively. We will have to play solid softball to come away with a win.”
Who: Charleston vs. Effingham
Records: Charleston (9-1, 1-0) vs. Effingham (6-1, 1-0)
Where: Karen Karch Field
Time: 10 a.m.
Effingham Players to Watch: Taylor Armstrong (senior), Emma Hardiek (senior), Jaidi Davis (senior), Grace Bushur (junior)