After being held in check by what Jarod Kiger calls a “very talented” Effingham pitching staff, Mattoon scored a season-high eight runs against Sullivan Thursday night on right hits.

Mattoon will next take on Mt. Zion which is slowly moving up the Apollo standings. A win in this series, though, could the Green Wave back in the hunt.

Here is a preview of Saturday’s game.

Team Records: Mattoon (3-8, 1-3) @ Mount Zion (6-5, 3-1)

Where: Lions Club Park

School Size: Mattoon (930), Mount Zion (763)

Varsity First Pitch: 9 a.m.

Opponent’s History: Mount Zion has been led by J.D. Arnold for at least the last three seasons. Last year, the Braves were 15-8 and 5-2 in the conference. The team has won four Regional Championships since 2011. 

Mount Zion’s Past Results: The Braves have a competitive schedule with several well-known opponents. Among their wins, the Braves defeated Decatur Eisenhower and Decatur St. Teresa by a combined 27-0. The team owns a 12-9 win over Effingham and a 1-0 loss. Last weekend, the Braves swept Taylorville 17-4, 14-3. The team is currently riding a two-game losing streak to Metamora in Chatham Glenwood. 

“I don’t know much about Mt. Zion except for what I have seen in their box scores,” said Mattoon head coach Jarod Kiger. “They appear to be an extremely competitive team and have had a solid start to the season, especially with a 3-1 conference record.”

Mount Zion’s Team Stats:  Stats unavailable. 

Mattoon’s Past Results: Mattoon has lost five straight games. Mattoon lost to Effingham 10-0 and 8-0 last weekend. That was followed by a 4-2 loss to Newton. The Green Wave played Sullivan, who was 2-8, on Thursday. 

“Effingham was a solid team,” said Kiger. “Their pitching was dominant against us on Saturday.  They have a very solid top of the rotation and will certainly be a team that will become tougher as the season moves on.  I was impressed with the way they played.  Very few mistakes in the field and a solid approach at the plate.”

Mattoon’s Team Stats: Zach Wetzel led the team in hitting with a .452 average before Thursday’s game. Wetzel also led the team in hits with 14 and runs with five. Wetzel was the only player on the team with double-digit hits. On the mound, Jackson Helms leads the staff with a 2-1 record with a 2.57 earned run average in 16.1 innings with 10 walks and 13 strikeouts. Logan MacDonald adds 17 strikeouts in 10.2 innings of work. 

What Mount Zion Said: The coach did not respond to comment. 

What Mattoon Said: “Our focus must be on being more efficient at the plate,” said Kiger. “In a majority of our games, we have gotten runners on base but have struggled to get them across the plate.  Defensively, we have made too many errors, which has forced our pitchers to throw unnecessary pitches.  As our schedule picks up and we continue to gain game reps, I believe these things will improve.  Our guys have continued to work in practice and I’m confident that we will get things moving in the right direction.”