With Charleston tied with Mount Zion for the Apollo lead, there is no margin for error for the Trojans. If Charleston can sweep this doubleheader, that will set up an essential Apollo Championship Game in Charleston on May 6. As for Effingham, who is 4-4 and right on the heels of the Apollo leaders, this doubleheader means just as much to the Hearts as it does to the Trojans. 

Here is a preview of Friday’s game. 

Team Records: Charleston (14-3, 5-1) @ Effingham (8-8, 4-4)

Where: Effingham High School 

School Size: Charleston (796), Effingham (736)

First Pitch: 4 p.m.

Opponent’s History: Effingham is led by longtime head coach Jerry Trigg, who has been the coach of the Hearts for 24 years. Trigg owns a career record of 426-284 if you include this season with two Regional Championships. Last year, the Hearts were 15-11. 

Effingham’s Past Results: Effingham started the season 2-6 but has come around in the recent weeks. Effingham owns the only win over Mount Zion in conference play, a 14-4 win in the first game before dropping the second game 8-7. Effingham did lose to Mahomet-Seymour 10-0 and 11-6, a team Charleston split with. Effingham also split with Mattoon, losing the first game 10-9 and winning the second 14-2. Last week, Effingham swept Lincoln 7-6 and 8-7. 

Effingham’s Top Players: Effingham lost two All-Apollo players from last year Jaime Davis and Emma Hardiek, but brought back junior Riley Cunningham, who is batting .404 on the season. Abby Cunningham leads the Hearts with a .452 batting average. Grace Bushur leads the team with 22 hits, while both Cunninghams have 19 hits. All three players lead the team in RBIs, while Bushur owns three home runs at the plate. On the mound, freshman Saige Althoff is 7-5 in 79 innings with 48 walks and 87 strikeouts with a 3.99 earned run average. 

Effingham’s Team Stats:  As a team, the Hearts bat .322. The pitching staff owns a 5.10 earned run average. 

Charleston’s Past Results: Last weekend, Charleston traveled to Metamora to play at the Metamora Showcast. The Trojans went 2-1, beating IVC 9-2 and Normal University 6-5. The team lost to Metamora, who was ranked in the top-5 of the IHSA Class 3 state rankings. On Tuesday, Charleston defeated Tolono Unity 6-5 in nine innings, which featured a complete game from Karah Moore, as well as the walk-off RBI. 

“I am pretty proud of the entire team for their play and support from the dugout on Saturday,” said head coach Blain Mayhall. “ It was a long day, playing back to back to back without rest or time to grab food.  The wind was horrible, but the girls did a great job making adjustments.  It’s beneficial to play 3 quality opponents and that will help us as we proceed with our season.”

Charleston’s Team Stats: Moore now leads the team on average with .482 as the only player hitting over .400. Addison Shrader and Kailyn Wilson lead the team with 15 runs scored. Moore owns 27 hits, while Shrader owns 22 hits. Moore also leads the team in RBIs with 22, while Erin Blair is second with 15. Moore also owns six home runs, while Blair owns four. On the mound, Moore is 9-3 in 66 innings with a 1.48 earned run average with 25 walks and 67 strikeouts. 

What Charleston Said: “Effingham has a nice freshman pitcher,” said Mayhall. “They hit the ball extremely well.  We are going to have to limit mistakes on defense and our pitchers have to hit spots.  Our offense will also have to match their big bats hit for hit.  It will take a consistent effort from us in all aspects of the game to be competitive.”