By Joe Gisondi
It’s hard to imagine one’s softball coach breaking out dance moves like this guy.
Especially right before a big postseason game against a heated rival.
But that’s sort of what Charleston players Karah Moore and Addison Shrader watched Tuesday afternoon a few hours before the Trojans blew out Mattoon, 13-0, in the IHSA Class 3A regional semifinal at CHS.
“We got him doing the robot,” CHS junior Karah Moore said, bringing laughter to Shrader.
Like Moore and Shrader, CHS coach Blain Mayhall felt a good vibe before the game so he had a little fun with his players.
“They had good energy,” Mayhall said. “I can always feel with this group whether we have some energy or not. This morning, they had a lot of energy.”
“The vibe was just there,” said Shrader, who collected three hits, drove in three runs and scored twice.
Shrader ignited a six-run first-inning rally by ripping a line-drive double to center that created a vibe that the game was pretty much already over.
The Trojans sent 11 batters to the plate during the rally, making solid contact and collecting eight hits that included two-run singles by Kailyn Wilson and Blair Ritchey.
“I was expecting us to come out fantastic,” Moore said, “because I felt the good vibes from the team. Everybody came excited today, and ready to play. We knew it would be a tough game because Mattoon’s never easy. We just brought our A-game.”
“We were just dancing and having fun at the beginning of the game,” Shrader said. “As soon as we had the first couple of hits, I was just ‘Today is going to be a good day.'”
Charleston kept building on its lead.
Moore ripped her 11th homer of the season over the left-center field fence to make it 7-0 in the second inning.
Lane ripped an RBI single to drive in Ritchey in the third.
And the Trojans then scored five more runs in the fourth, capped by a run scoring triple by Wilson that set up the run-rule scenario.
“Today, they came out clicking on all cylinders,” said Mayhall. “I just got that vibe at the field. When we first showed up, they were having a good time and being loose. I haven’t seen that for awhile.”
Moore, meanwhile, pitched nearly flawlessly. The junior allowed only a two-out single in the first and issued just one walk, striking out two and allowing her defense to make plays behind her.
Mattoon (13-14) had entered the game having scored in double-figures five times during the past several weeks, exploding for run totals of 21, 19, 18, 16 and 14 to win eight of its previous 10 games.
“I’m not shocked that Charleston came out hitting,” Mattoon coach Jennifer Saucier said. “What I am shocked by is that we didn’t adjust and also put some runs on the board. That was our biggest downfall, that we just didn’t adjust to Karah. We’re a good hitting team. We just, unfortunately, did not show that today.”
“Mattoon was really hot,” Mayhall said. “They’ve been hitting the seams off the ball. We kind of flipped the switch on that today. I didn’t have any complaints, I think, for the first time in my career.”
Charleston (25-8) next faces Wednesday’s winner between Effingham-Mt. Vernon in Friday’s regional championship, which is set for 4:30 p.m. at Mt. Vernon High School.
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