By Chet Piotrowski
Mattoon’s Raven Morrison did it again.
She doesn’t care either.
The Green Wave pitcher hurled 4 1/3 no-hit ball for the second time in a week, this time leading Mattoon to 10-0 softball victory over Effingham on Saturday morning.
The fiery right-hander walked one and struck out 12.
“A couple of the girls came in here and said ‘Raven, you have a no-hitter’ and she said, ‘I don’t care about that. I care about the runs on the board,” said Mattoon coach Hannah Dow. She’s been lights out on the mound. She really sets the tone for our game after our offense and defense. 1-2-3 innings gets our offense back in here.”
Morrison wasn’t so sure about today as she’s worked through an injury.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the team,” she said. “I wouldn’t be doing as well as I did today without the girls raking up the hits. Definitely couldn’t do it without everyone behind me.”
Dow appreciates her senior hurler’s leadership.
“She’s a great teammate,” Dow said. “For a leader to say she doesn’t care about her stats and that she cared that her team was up 9-0. We wanted one more to get across. When your team has a lead and a big lead, you can relax a little bit more out there. She stepped out and was ready to go.”
With one out in the fifth, Effingham’s Riley Cunningham broke up the no-hitter, but the Hearts left her on base when Morrison struck out Daelyn Dunston to close the game for the Green Wave.
“For our defense, it’s hard when we have a strikeout pitcher where there hasn’t been many balls in play,” Dow said. “We talk about that, too. They can’t take a pitch off. The minute you take a pitch off is the minute you get a ball hit to you. We focus on our infield is talking to our outfield every pitch. They might get bored out there a little bit, but they have to create that for themselves and be engaged and aware when that balls gets hit to them.”
Green Wave batters stayed true as well by meeting or improving on their previous batting averages Saturday against Effingham in the opener. Bryant, who was batting .500, went 2-for-4. Morrison, who was batting .333, went 2-for-4; Ivie Edwards, batting .419, went 3-for-4. And Greeson, who was batting .400, went 3-for-4. The foursome accounted for five of Mattoon’s 10 runs.
“We’ve been hitting,” Dow said. “It’s hard to keep us down. When one person starts, we keep going. It keeps feeding into it. The energy in the dugout is just crazy. That’s all that I’ve asked: To be excited and have that energy and go all out.”
After the six-run second inning explosion, Mattoon came back the following inning, scoring three more, and added the 10th run in the top of the fifth. The Green Wave collected 14 hits en route to the win that sets them up for their showdown with Charleston, who most predicted would win the conference softball title.
“We’ve said all along we’re going to be aggressive on that first good strike,” Dow said. “When we don’t then we have to guess on that pitcher’s mindset on what they’re going to throw to them. We really focus on being aggressive early in the count. Obviously, they’re seeing some results out of it. Let’s stick with it and that approach. They know when they’re locked in, it’s going to be hard to put us down.”
Dow said the biggest reason for the abrupt change from going 0-3 and being outscored 26-5 was a change of approach for practice.
“We’ve had a lot of team bonding experiences here lately where that sometimes is more important than getting reps on the field,” Dow said. “We have a senior class that really wants it where they take charge and I don’t have to get on them. That’s what you want.”
“The last couple of wins has brought here – to get us going playing frisbee and hacky sack as a team for great team bonding,” Morrison said. “Having that bond brings everyone together. Going to Charleston it’s called a lot of confidence on our back, but we also have a target too. We have to keep that in mind.”
Mattoon dropped the second game, allowing nine unearned runs in a 10-6 loss. So the Green Wave (7-5) remain tied atop the Apollo standings with Charleston, whose Karah Moore no-hit Mahomet, at 4-0. This season, only the first game of the doubleheader counts toward the conference lead.
Elizabeth Enlow gave up five runs, but only one earned, on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Ivie Edwards gave up five unearned runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
Effingham, whose Riley Cunningham gave up a two-run home run to Mattoon’s Xylia Greeson in the first inning, roared back to score four runs in the second and five more in the fifth.
Effingham is now 12-5.