Lincoln could this be a potential dark horse contender for the Apollo Conference. Defending champion Charleston could have their hands full as Lincoln comes to town in Friday night softball action.

Here is a preview of Friday’s game. 

Team Records: Charleston (5-1, 2-0) vs. Lincoln (6-3, 1-1)

Where: Karen Karch Field

School Size: Charleston (796), Lincoln (810)

First pitch: 4:30 p.m.

Opponent’s History: Lincoln is coached by first-year coach LeAnn Gilbert. She replaced Darrin Worth, who coached two winning seasons in six years while accumulating a 62-128 record. The last winning season (18-17) came during the 2017 season, while the team’s last Regional Championship came in 2009.

Lincoln’s Past Results: Lincoln owns an impressive start to the season. Among its five wins include Warrensburg-Latham, Porta, Williamsville, Morton, and Jacksonville. The two losses are an extra-inning 2-1 loss to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin and a 7-6 loss to Big 12 Conference contender Normal Community. Lincoln split a softball doubleheader with Mahomet-Seymour over the weekend.

Lincoln’s Top Players: Lincoln returns First-Team All-Apollo junior Cara Farnam, who hit .425 last season. Farnam also made the Herald & Review All-Area softball team. 

Lincoln’s Team Stats:  No stats are available. 

Charleston’s Past Results: Charleston is coming off its first loss of the season, 5-1 to Effingham St. Anthony. Charleston opened the Apollo Conference season with two wins over Mattoon and followed those up with a 1-0 win over Urbana.

We need to learn from our mistakes and loose defensive play in game 2 against Mattoon,” said Blain Mayhall. “We can always be more consistent from top to bottom with our hitting. I like our chances when we tighten up those two areas. I am proud of their togetherness, thus far, and the fact that they seem to be having fun. It’s early, but if we can be more consistent, we will always be competitive. “

Charleston’s Team Stats: Freshman Blair Ritchey has gotten off to a hot start with a second-best batting average of .357 with a team-leading four doubles. Sophomore Addison Schrader leads the team with six runs batted in. The junior trio of Kailyn Wilson, Karah Moore, and Erin Blair have all hit a home run. In the pitching circle, Moore owns an 0.23 earned run average with a 5-0 record in 30 innings pitched with 34 strikeouts to 12 walks.

What Lincoln Said: Coach Gilbert did not respond to comment.

What Charleston Said: “Don’t know too much about Lincoln,” said Mayhall. “I know they have a nice pitcher and a couple of big bats returning from last year. Also, a new coach may bring a new philosophy. Everyone in our conference can play, so I expect very tough competition from Lincoln on Friday, weather permitting.”

— Kyle Daubs