By Mike Monahan
Mattoon put a runner on base every inning except for the first, but to no avail.
As a result, the Greenwave lost 11-1 to the state’s No. 1 softball team in Class 1A, Casey-Westfield, on Saturday afternoon at the Mattoon Roundhouse Complex.
The Warriors scored three in the first and four in the third for a lead that was never challenged in winning its ninth straight game to improve to 33-2.
“We would get a runner or two on, but could not get the hits to move them around,” said Mattoon coach Jennifer Saucier. “We simply didn’t have our best hitting game today for sure.”
Although MHS (13-17) does not have as gaudy of a record as C-W, the team entered Saturday’s game having won seven of 10. Mattoon has one more game next week against Bloomington Normal before heading in the IHSA regional.
“Really, our bats are what helped out this year,” Saucier said. “We know that people are going to score on us most likely and we just have to be hot with our bats. That has helped us. Even if they score some runs, we come back and get runs and give ourselves a shot.”
Casey-Westfield coach Dalton McFarland said he knew Mattoon had been playing well.
“Mattoon had some really good at-bats today,” said McFarland. “That is a really good ball club. Going into the game, we thought it was going to be a struggle and we just happened to jump out early today and take care of business. Mattoon is a well-coached team.”
McFarland is in his sixth season with a career record of 165-39 (.809), which includes a second-place state finish in the Class 1A softball tournament last season.
Casey-Westfield scored three times in the first inning after putting five straight batters on base.
The Warriors added four more runs in the third. To make matters far worse that inning, Mattoon’s Sydney Starwalt re-injured her leg when a Warrior runner slid into her near second base.
“It is the same knee,” said Saucier, who did not know the condition of Starwalt. “I had to struggle to figure out who was going to go in and where to put people, and it was a little like a jigsaw puzzle.”
Mattoon scored its sole run in the third when Alyssa Whitley earned the first hit for the Greenwave, an infield single. Cam Lee then reached base on one of four errors by the Warriors before Kam Conlin drove her in on a sacrifice fly.
“Unfortunately, we are battling some injuries all around and our pitchers are not 100 percent,” said Saucier. “It is a little bit hard trying to finish the regular season with the people not 100 percent. They (Casey) didn’t run rule us. They had a couple of big innings. If they don’t have those two big innings, it could have been a different game.”
C-W’s Paige Cutright improved to 17-2 after allowing three hits and striking out seven on 99 pitches, 73 for strikes. She improved to 63-7 in three years with an earned run average just over 1.00.
“Paige is Paige,” said McFarland. “She is one of the best in the area and when she is on she is tough to hit. We put a good defense behind her and that makes it hard to score runs.”
MATTOON: Liz Enlow 1-for-2 stolen base; Hallee Perry 1-for-2 stolen base; Alyssa Whitley 1-for-3, run; Kam Conlin RBI
Losing pitcher: Aubrey Cross 2 ⅓ innings, 8 hits, 7 runs, 6 earned, 1 walk, 3 strikeout ; Relief: Hanna Griffin 4 ⅔ innings, 3 hits, 4 runs, 0 earned, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
CASEY-WESTFIELD: Ava Goble 1-for-5 stolen base; Maya Redman 2-for-4, double, run, RBI; Cutright 1-for-5; Megan Cribelar 2-for-4, 2 doubles, 4 runs, stolen base, 2 RBIs; Kam Smith 2-for-4, double, 2 RBIs; Lucy Moore 1-for-2, 2 runs, RBI; Rachel Warfel 1-for-3, stolen base, 2 runs, RBI; Emma Shull run, RBI; Whitney Fuller stolen base
Winning pitcher: Paige Cutright 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 0 earned, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts