By Mike Monahan

Charleston softball coach Blain Mayhall admitted a decision he made prior to the Apollo Conference opener Saturday at the Roundhouse Complex against Mattoon turned out well.

Sophomore Morgan Dickey, a late add to the lineup, went 4-for-7 with a double, two runs and two RBIs in a softball sweep Saturday.

“Morgan needed to be added to the lineup because Maci (Mayhall) needed to be moved to the flex because she is dealing with some asthma right now,” said Mayhall. She couldn’t hit and run, but she could play second. So we put Morgan in as the DP and she really did well. She had a pretty good day and will probably find herself in that lineup more.”

Charleston, the No. 13 team in the Illinois Coaches Association Class 3A rankings, scored in all but the third inning of the first game en route to an 11-1 win. 

The Trojans, who took an early 9-0 lead, barely held on to beat the Green Wave 10-9 in the second game.

Charleston improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Apollo, while Mattoon is 0-2 in both the conference and overall. 

“Defensively, we have to clean it up, but overall I am pretty proud of how today went,” said Mattoon first-year coach Jennifer Saucier, who had been an assistant the last six seasons. “There were definitely multiple kids who came up big hitting wise.”

Mattoon made eight total errors, five in the opener.

“Charleston is a good hitting team,” Saucier said. “We knew we were going to have to play behind our pitchers. We had some amazing plays at the same time, too.  There were some key errors that Charleston capitalized on.”

Game 2: Charleston 10, Mattoon 9

Charleston looked like it might end the second game by the 15-run rule after scoring five in the first inning and four in the second. Erin Blair drilled a home run over the left-field fence to cap the first-inning rally on a day with winds sometimes blowing stronger than 20 mph. 

CHS catcher Erin Blair (behind the plate) hit a key 3-run homer in Game 2 on Saturday. (Photo/Mike Moore, Moore Sports Photography)

In the second inning, sophomore leadoff hitter Addison Shrader reached on an error and with one out Karah Moore drove in Shrader with a double. Clara Cox greeted a new Mattoon pitcher with a double to right, scoring Moore and Kailyn Wilson for the nine-run lead. 

“We started out great, “ said Blain Mayhall. “I told them after the second inning ‘You can’t act like it is 9-0. You have to act like it is 0-0.’ They are kids. They are normal and you can get complacent, but we talk about that all of the time. You have to stay mentally tough to get through that. Throwing the ball around tnd letting them get extra bases to get into scoring position and then they push another run across is not good. That can get you, and it almost did today.”

Solid defense in late innings key for CHS

In the last half inning Mattoon trailed 10-8 when Cam Lee singled to left, went to second on an error, Starwalt singled and left-handed Sophie Artis was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Starwalt subsequently scored on a sacrifice bunt by Abbie Morgan. With the game-tying run at second and the game-winning run at first, Charleston won the game when third baseman Blair Richey fielded a ball that almost got away and reached out and touched third for the fielder’s choice. 

Richey had also helped execute a non-traditional double play in the sixth inning (see below).

(Video/Mike Moore)

Mattoon had started its comeback with four runs in the second when Ivie Edwards reached on an error. With two outs and the bases loaded, No. 9 batter Hallee Perry smacked a single to center that cleared the bases. Perry then scored when Cadance McDowell reached on an error. 

The Green Wave moved within two runs in the third inning. Edwards singled to right, Emma Longcor hit an RBI double to the gap in left-center and Cam Lee walked. Longcor scored. With two outs, Sophie Artis singled to center to score Lee. 

Kalilyn Wilson, the winning pitcher of the second game, hit what turned out to be the game-winning run with a solo home run in the fourth for a 10-7 lead. 

“Kaitlyn Wilson pitched well,” said Mahyall. “Not making plays and giving them extra bases was not good. She kind of hurt her ankle in the (pitcher’s)circle and Karah Moore came back in and looked strong again. She is tough. Every time we put her out there, she trusts her defense and we trust her in the circle. She did a great job.”

As for the home runs, Mayhall said: “In this wind those are good balls. A lot of them are probably doubles and triples off both teams, but that (Wilson’s) got up there and hung up.”

Game 1: Charleston 11, Mattoon 1

Mattoon scored its only run in the second when Lee singled and scored on a two-out single and an error off the bat of Perry. 

Charleston, who led 3-1 after two,  scored seven  unanswered runs starting with two in the fourth inning as Dickey drew a base on balls, Blair singled, Olivia Schutte sacrificed the runners with a bunt and both runners scored when Blair Richey reached on one of five Mattoon errors in the contest. 

The Trojans scored two more in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings as they took advantage of two Mattoon errors and four walks and got a two-run right-center by Shrader. 

“It was two different games,” said Mayhall. “We want to play more like the first game and less like the second game. That is kind of what I told them. You have to make adjustments and learn from those and this being the third and fourth game of the year you can do that. You have plenty of time to do that and not make the mental mistakes and errors that we did iteh the second game. It is early and I think we will learn from them.”

Moore scattered eight hits to improve to 3-0. 

“Karah pitched really well in both games,” said Mayhall. ”The first game was very solid. The defense was solid. We were not throwing the ball around and letting them advance on throws we don’t need to be making, which happened in the second game quite a bit more. Our base running needs to tighten up a little bit, especially on a day like this with the wind. We got some pop flys that we think are outs or foul balls and then we don’t run. It is really early in the year.”

Saucier was happy with the offense as they had eight hits in each game. 

“I am definitely happy with our hitting,” said Saucier. “It was definitely some errors that hurt us. I think our pitchers pitched well enough to win those games. We have had only three practices on the field so far and as frustrating as that is going to happen and I told them that, but we just need to pick each other up and turn the page when an error happens. We had some amazing plays on defense too. We just had some key errors that they capitalized on.”

Charleston will travel to Urbana on Monday for a non-conference game, while Mattoon will play host to Normal West at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, also in a non-conference game.

Game 1

Charleston1202222 –1191
Mattoon0100000 – 185

Winning pitcher: Karah Moore (3-0) 7 innings, 8 hits, 1 run, 0 earned, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts. Losing pitcher: Ivie Edwards (0-1)  7 innings, 9 hits, 11 runs, 3 earned, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts

CHARLESTON: Addison Shrader 1-for-5 double, 2, runs, 2 RBIs; Mikayla Lane 1-for-5; Karah Moore 2-for-4, double, 2 RBIs; Kaylin Wilson 1-for-4, run; Morgan Dickey 2-for-3, run, RBI; Olivia Schutte run; Blair Richey 1-for-2, double, stolen base, 3 runs, 2 RBIs; Maci Mayhall 1-for-2, run; Kaylee Gough 2 runs. 

MATTOON: Cadence McDaniel 3-for-4; Cam Lee 1-for-1, run; Kam Conlin 2-for-3; Sophie Artis 1-for-3; Hallee Perry 1-for-2

Game 2

Charleston5401000 –10144
Mattoon0430011 –983

Winning pitcher: Wilson (1-0) 2 ⅓ innings, 3 hits, 7 runs, 3 earned, 3 walks, 0 strikeouts: Save: Moore 4 ⅔ innings, five hits, 2 runs, 1 earned, 1 walk, 1 strikeout. 

Losing pitcher : Liz Enlow (0-1) 1 inning, 9 hits, 9 runs, 5 earned, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts; Relief: Sydney Starwalt 2 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout; Edwards 4 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

CHARLESTON: Wilson 2-for-3, home run, 3 runs, RBI; Lane 2-for-4, 2 doubles, run, RBI; Shrader 2-for-5 triple, 2 runs; Cox 2-for-4, double, run, 2 RBIs; Dickey 2-for-4, run, RBI: Schutte 2-for-4; Moore 1-for-4, double, run, RBI; Blair 1-for-4, home run, run, 3 RBIs

MATTOON: McDaniel run; Edwards 3-for-4, run, RBI; Emma Longcor 1-for-4, 2 runs, RBI; Lee 1-for-3, 2 runs; Starwalt 1-for-3, RBI; Conlin run; Artis 1-for-3, RBI: Abbie Morgan 1-for-3, run, 2 RBIs; Lexi Otto run