Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Sports

June 5, 2014

#Windians: Armed with catchphrase, Altamont ready for first state trip

ALTAMONT — Nikki Tharp and Deidre Ledbetter make Ws with their fingers in different ways, but any sign the Altamont teammates show means the same thing.

“Windians,” said Tharp, who makes the sign with three fingers on one hand. “It’s kind of a surreal thing for us to have. It’s kind of a big motivator for us. We’re kind of the Windians.”

The combination of the word “win,” which the team is doing a lot of lately, and “Indians,” the school’s nickname, spurred a Twitter hashtag for the squad’s postseason run.

The word will be painted, scribbled and drawn on cars, posters and T-shirts belonging to the slew of Altamont fans and even players traveling to this weekend’s Class 1A state finals in Peoria.

Tharp said its the slogan for this state-bound softball team, which is experiencing all kinds of new things this week — not limited to practicing in June after graduating high school.

“If we bring home a state title, it’ll kind of sink in that we’re done,” Tharp said. “We’ve definitely gone out with a bang, no matter what place we come back with.”

The Indians’ eight seniors graduated Saturday night, hours after securing a 15-0 sectional championship victory against Oblong. They followed it up with a 16-0 win in Monday’s super-sectional against Camp Point Central to advance to this weekend’s final four.

Altamont reached its season-long goal by advancing past super-sectionals, where the Indians were knocked out by Goreville to end last season. The subsequent, celebratory bus ride was filled with a lot of noise, including “old jams” and Ledbetter screaming louder than most.

“We were up in our seats, dancing, and I’m pretty sure that’s not legal,” said Ledbetter, who’s also excited about this morning’s bus ride to Peoria.

“I’m definitely excited for the game, but I’m looking forward to the bus ride, to staying in a hotel with everybody. I’ve got four of my best friends in the hotel with me and the other three in the room next to me.”

Adds Tharp: “I think we’re going to have a heck of a bus ride over there.”

Catcher Lauren White said the team’s bus rides have been loud and rowdy since junior high softball. She said Ledbetter, the Indians’ star pitcher, always brings the speakers and music.

Tharp said it’s special that the core group of seniors, who are leading the school to its first state finals appearance in any sport, can do it together after wanting to reach the big stage for so long.

Second baseman Josie Phillips said it only sunk in that “we could win this” when the Indians’ offense started its rout in the super-sectional game.

“I can’t even explain how happy I was when we won that,” Phillips said. “It’s an amazing feeling knowing that whatever we do now, we’re going to place at state.”

But the Indians don’t intend to settle for any place besides the one they want, which Phillips calls “the big trophy.” Practices continue to intensify with that goal in mind and Phillips said the results are already showing on the field with their impressive run differential.

Altamont is beating teams by a combined score of 57-3 this postseason, which wasn’t how White expected to advance through May, beating all but Cumberland by at least seven runs.

“Our lineup is on fire,” White said. “It’s crazy.”

Ledbetter and White, forming Altamont’s staple pitcher-catcher tandem, said they get a confidence boost from the run support, much of which they help create — each boasting batting averages better than .400 this season. Ledbetter is hitting .485.

White said they expect to face better hitters in this weekend’s games. The duo calls their own pitches and are trying their best to scout the premiere hitters, starting with Sciota West Prairie’s lineup which they’ll face at 10 a.m. Friday at the Eastside Centre.

“We don’t have much, but we have a little,” Ledbetter said. “We want to look at their tendencies.”

Ledbetter said she didn’t expect “in a million years” the kind of offensive firepower the Indians have shown off during the postseason, especially after playing in tight games throughout the regular season.

Altamont topped Stew-Stras/Windsor three times this season, beating the Comets 4-1 and 3-1 in the first two matchups, respectively. The Indians dominated a rematch in the regional championship game, 10-3.

“We hit so much,” Phillips said. “Every single batter in our lineup has hit really well. It’s not just the top five or bottom half. It’s everyone and that’s amazing.”

For a sectional final, Ledbetter thought scoring 15 runs was “incredible” and said she certainly didn’t expect a similar result in the super-sectional game. They got it with a 16-0 win, which convinced Ledbetter that her team was getting even better than she thought.

“We’re definitely at a peak right now, but hopefully the mountain keeps getting taller,” Ledbetter said.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • 7-29NewtonOrientmain.JPG Newton's season ends in 14-4 loss

     Newton Post 20 almost pulled another comeback off against the Orient Miners, cutting a 5-1 deficit to 5-4 midway through Monday night’s game.
    But Newton’s Junior Legion Fifth Division tournament run came to an end, as Orient rattled off nine runs in the sixth inning and clinched a spot in the state tournament with a 14-4 win.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-28NewtonSundaygame2.JPG Comeback win keeps Post 20 alive in 10-7 win

    Newton Post 120 didn’t let a 4-1 deficit get to them against Highland Post 439, using a patient approach in the face of an elimination game.
    Three bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the third tied the game at 4-4, and with the bases loaded down 5-4 in the fourth, Tim Weber broke the game open with a two-run double and an error.
    By the time the dust settled, Newton led 10-5 heading to the sixth inning and would hold on to a 10-7 win to keep its season alive.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-28NewtonSundaygame1.JPG Salem deals Newton first divisional loss

    Mitch Bierman started off Newton Post 20’s game against Salem Post 128 with a bang Sunday afternoon, hitting a leadoff triple and scoring on the next batter.
    Post 20’s offense didn’t follow his lead from there, as Newton had just three more hits and no runs, and falling in a Junior Legion Fifth Division winner’s bracket game to Salem 12-1 in seven innings.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0725.JPG Newton Post 20 bests Belleville Post 58 in opener 6-1
    After a 9-3 loss to Breese Post 252 Gray Monday night, Newton Post 20 coach John Grunloh predicted the five-day break until the Junior Legion Fifth Division tournament would be good for his players, especially his pitchers. 
    Mitch Jansen proved his coach right, spinning a gem in Newton's opener Saturday afternoon as Post 20 made short work of Belleville Post 58 6-1. 

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • daughertyfootball.jpg Hearts to prep with Mattoon 7-on-7

    Two weeks ago, Effingham was supposed to start shaking off the rust with a 7-on-7 football tournament in Mattoon. Naturally, it rained and was canceled.
    So Saturday, the Flaming Hearts will head up to Mattoon and play their first 7-on-7 event of the season, taking part in an 10- team field with Mattoon, Rochester, Robinson, Marshall, Cahokia and Pleasant Plains from Illinois, with Terre Haute North and Northview coming from Indiana. Rochester is bringing two squads.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mammoser3.jpg Newton Post 20 plays Belleville Saturday

    With the District 23 tournament behind them, Newton Post 20 now knows its fate for the Fifth Division Junior Legion tournament this weekend in Bethalto.
    Newton will play Belleville Post 58 at 2:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Bethalto, in the third game of six on the day.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bateman.jpg Effingham's season comes to a close with 11-1 loss to Salem

    A 1-0 lead for Effingham Post 120 rapidly evaporated, and the post’s Junior Legion season came to an end with a 11-1 loss in five innings to Salem Post 128 Tuesday night.
    The game was for the final spot of District 23 in the divisional tournament, with Newton Post 20 and Breese Post 252 Gray punching their tickets by winning their district divisions.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bierman.jpg Newton Post 20 falls short against Breese Gray 9-3

    While the District 23 title ultimately exceeded Newton Post 20’s grasp, their season will continue in Bethalto.
    Newton took on Breese Post 252 Gray for the Junior Legion District 23 title as the two division winners, but Breese’s bats proved too much for Newton in an 9-3 loss for Post 20.
    “The innings where they put some runs on us, we gave them some extra outs,” said Newton coach John Grunloh. “You’ve got to make the plays when you play better teams.”

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Barnes3.jpg Barnes' one-hitter boosts Post 120; Effingham beats Dieterich 1-0

    Ryan Barnes hasn’t seen a lot of time with Effingham Post 120’s junior legion team this season, but he showed up in a big way Monday night in a 1-0 win over Dieterich Post 628.
    The win kept Effingham’s season alive one more day in the Junior Legion District 23 tournament, as the post will face Salem Post 128 at 5:30 p.m. today for the district’s final spot in the divisional round. Salem Post 128 downed Mt. Vernon Post 141 1-0 in the West Division loser’s bracket, setting up the final with Effingham today.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mammoser2.jpg Newton Post 20 tops Effingham Post 120 7-5 late

    Most of the games at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament have seen pitching take control, but the pitchers in Sunday night's Effingham Post 120/Newton Post 20 game faced an uphill battle.
    While Brock Mammoser started the game for Post 20 on the hill and struggled, he came through with the biggest hit in the game, putting Newton up for good in a 7-5 win over Effingham.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.