Story and photo by Chet Piotrowski
Ivie Edwards’ walk-off double enabled Mattoon to earn an Apollo Conference softball split with Effingham in a doubleheader at The Roundhouse on Saturday.
The Green Wave fell flatten the second game, committing eight errors and allowing 10 hits in a 14-2 loss.
Mattoon goes to 3-6 (2-4 Apollo), while Effingham goes to 5-6, 2-4.
In the opening game, Mattoon had taken an early 6-1 lead through two innings.
By the bottom of the fifth inning, the Green Wave trailed 7-6.
Mattoon scored twice in the bottom of the inning for an 8-7 advantage.
Behind again in the sixth, Abby Mathias tripled to tie the score at 9, scoring pinch-runner Lexi Murdock. Matthias tried stretching the hit out, but she was tagged out getting into third ending the rally.
Edwards turned out to be the Green Wave’s hero in more ways than one.
Edwards relieved Liz Enlow, striking out two of the three batters in the seventh before her hitting heroics.
Cadance McDaniels led off with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Camryn Lee. Edwards then looked at two called balls before drilling her third pitch to left field that drove in McDaniels.
“Our defense definitely struggled,” Mattoon High coach Jennifer Saucier said. “That should not have been as close of a game as it ended up being. That was definitely the defense’s part. I just think we made an error and then another error.”
Enlow gave up seven runs with only two earned on three Mattoon errors.
“Instead of picking each other up, we kept compounding on one another,” she said. “We didn’t do a good job of turning the page and getting the next play.”
Effingham scoring at least one run in the first five innings of the second game.
Mattoon’s defense, meanwhile, committed eight errors.
Saucier said her players might have gotten too confident.
“After the game, we were talking as a team,” she said. “One of the girls hit it on the head that we got a little too overconfident after winning that first game and didn’t come out fighting and thought we could win the second easily.”
Edwards again helped her cause with a home run in the bottom of the third, bringing the Green Wave back to 5-2.
“You know Ivie came with the home run and didn’t back down, and she was like ‘Forget this. We’re coming back,'” Saucier said. “I thought that would spark it. We just couldn’t keep connecting.”
Saucier believes that they should be better than how they’re playing considering how many games they’ve played.
“Starting out the season, I would have said with so many game cancellations we haven’t been able to have that experience yet,” she said. “At this point, we should be putting it together a little bit more. Until today, we did a pretty good job of not giving up and fighting back. But that second game, we didn’t have it in us to keep fighting.”
Part of the issue, she believes, is a lack of confidence.
“I think that we have the ability to play with the best of them,” she said. “I believe that. We need to believe that in ourselves and make the plays that we’re supposed to make. Against Charleston, defensively wasn’t good. Hitting wise, it was great. Today, it was our defense. We can do it, they have to believe in it themselves, too.
Another reason for the lack of defensive awareness has been a lack of practice time.
“Honestly, with all the weather we’ve had maybe six practices,” she said. “I know that it is making a bit of difference and we’re not able to work on situational stuff, and that’s showing at this point.”
Players, she said, also need to build their confidence.
“I think it’s just coming down to mental toughness,” she said. “ If we can be mentally tough, and if something doesn’t go our way then we have to move past it. If we can find a way to do that, we’ll be totally fine. I think the games we’ve been losing, there’s been things that we haven’t been able to get past and be confident in ourselves.”
Mattoon travels to St. Joe-Ogden on Tuesday for its second game against the Spartans in less than a week. SJ-O defeated the Green Wave Friday evening, 13-0.
“They are by far the toughest team we’ve seen this season,” Saucier said. “They have the hitting and their defense is good. They are a solid team. We talked about (them) after the games today,. Our next game is against St. Joe, and I told them hey theyre going to come thinking they creamed us last time and maybe they can walk in and run over us and we need to prove them wrong if we work together.”