By Kyle Daubs
Blain Mayhall certainly won’t complain about not making the trip to Mount Vernon twice.
Mattoon, Charleston, Effingham, and Mount Vernon are all grouped into the IHSA Class 3A Mount Vernon Regional. Mount Vernon, which is about an hour and twenty minutes from Charleston, would have been quite the drive for the two schools that are just 15 minutes apart in distance.
Instead, both schools will be playing each other at Karen Karch Field to save both teams the drive.
“It didn’t make sense for either team to get on a bus and go there,” said Charleston coach Blain Mayhall.
Charleston, the No. 1 seed, and Mattoon, the No. 6 seed, will begin postseason play with a semifinal game at 4:30.
The winner this game will play the winner of Effingham/Mount Vernon at Mount Vernon High School on Friday, May 27.
Mattoon gave Charleston a run for its money during the first week of the Apollo Conference season. Charleston, at 10-2 the winners of the Apollo, narrowly beat Mattoon, 10-9, in the conference opener, which coach Jennifer Saucier said her team remembers.
Mattoon (13-13) is coming off its biggest win of the season, an 18-5 win over Mahomet-Seymour.
“We are pumped to play them,” said Saucier. “After playing them for our first games of our season, I don’t feel we played to our full potential and I’m excited to be able to take another crack at them. Especially in regionals.”
Mattoon will turn to Ivie Edwards on the mound, who is 6-7 in 81 innings pitched. Edwards owns a 5.88 earned run average with 63 strikeouts and 59 walks. Edwards also leads the team in hits with 42 to go with a .452 batting average. Emma Longcor leads the team with 24 runs batted in while Abbie Morgan owns five home runs in 17 games.
Mayhall said that the Green Wave has been impressive during the last stretch of the season and will be a tough first-round opponent.
“We are excited to have a chance to compete for a regional title,” said Mayhall. “There are four great teams in our regional. We will work hard to prepare for Mattoon. They are a great team. We will have to play near-perfect softball in all aspects to win our first game.”
The Trojans will turn to Karah Moore, who is 12-6 in 112 1/3 innings with a 1.87 earned run average. Moore owns 112 strikeouts to 47 walks and also leads the team in hitting with a .500 average. Moore and Addison Schrader lead the team in hits with 53 and 51, respectively. Moore leads the team with 10 homers and 36 runs batted in with Kailyn Wilson driving in 30 runs.
In the final weeks of the season, Charleston lost 11-1 to St. Joseph-Ogdon and then 2-1 to Olney, but wrapped up its regular season with a 16-5 win over Champaign Centennial to finish 24-8.
With the Trojans finishing on a high note, Saucier knows the Green Wave are underdogs. But the way she sees it, the records are thrown out the window in the postseason.
“Both teams are going to be fighting hard, and it should be a good match,” said Saucier. “We get to be the underdog and play with nothing to lose. We just have to get our bats going from inning 1 and play solid defense behind our pitcher. If we do all the little things and keep playing how we have been, I have full confidence in this team to pull out a win.”
Who: Charleston vs Mattoon
Records: Charleston (24-8) vs. Mattoon (13-13)
Where: Karen Karch Field
Time: 4:30 p.m.