By BRADEN LAYER
---- — FLORA -- After the dust finally settled in the bottom of the second inning, Effingham found itself on the wrong side of an 8-4 ballgame. The Lady Hearts surrendered six runs in the frame off seven hits and a pair of untimely errors. Rather than letting that ugly inning decide the game, however, Effingham called upon the arm of Deedra Myers to help turn the tide.
Myers was fantastic in the first game of the season, allowing just two hits, and more importantly no Flora runs, during the final five innings of the game. With Myers holding down the mound, the Lady Hearts continued to chip away at the plate, coming away with a dramatic, 10-8 come-from-behind win over the Wolfgals (0-6).
"We basically gave them six of those eight runs," Flaming Hearts' coach Jerry Trigg said. "So we brought Deedra in, and she pitched really well."
Offensively, Effingham came out of the gates with their bats plenty full of juice, as Alexis Osborn's two-run shot over the left field wall capped a three-run first inning. Effingham added a run in the second with Courtney White's RBI single, but the 4-2 Hearts' lead would be short lived.
The Wolfgals used an opportunistic offense to take control in the second inning. With two outs and a runner on first, Flora tallied six runs before the inning was over. Already tied at four after a pair of Wolfgal runs, Effingham's defense suffered from back-to-back miscues that allowed four more runners to cross home plate.
"We had a couple of throwing errors," Trigg said. "Mistakes on where to throw the ball and when to throw it. It got away from us, and it seems like when you start throwing it around, the runners always score."
Flora's Lexi Hensley hit a groundball to third, but Brandy Pontious' throw to first was off the mark to allow two runs. One batter later, Katy Glassford connected on a bunt that looked to be the last out of the inning, but Effingham starting pitcher Kourtney Utz was late and outside with her throw as two more runs were added to the scoreboard and Flora led 8-4.
Utz was relieved in favor of Myers after two innings, and the Hearts began to click. Flora went three up, three down in its first three cracks at Myers, before Effingham was able to tie the game with a four-run fourth inning.
Pontious hit an RBI single to right field to bring home the first run, and Myers brought home another one batter later when she grounded into a fielder's choice. After a third Effingham runner scored on a wild pitch from Flora's Jessica Eaton, Osborn drove in her third and final run of the day to bring the Hearts all the way back to even at 8-8.
"We knew we could score runs," Trigg said. "I really thought our lineup, from top to bottom, swung the bat real well."
The Effingham offense could also rely on the strong arm of Myers, who struck out four batters in her five innings of action. With Flora's offense neutralized, the Lady Hearts just needed one more run to finish the game on top.
As it turns out, they would get two, one each in the final two innings. Pontious' RBI double brought Kelli Utz home after Utz was walked to start the inning. Ahead 9-8, Effingham added one more run for good measure in the final frame of a Wolfgal error.
Myers was the unquestioned jump start that the Lady Hearts so desparately needed, throwing with pinpoint accuracy to keep Flora from tallying another run.
"She actually hit her spots really well," Trigg said. "She had good control. When she left it up over the plate it was on the corner, they still couldn't make solid contact."
Myers got the win with her solid effort, and Effingham improved to 1-0 on the season with the win. The Lady Hearts return to action on Tuesday when they host Beecher City/Cowden-Herrick.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
R H E
Effingham 3 1 0 4 0 1 1 10 12 3
Flora 2 6 0 0 0 0 0 8 11 5
WP-Myers LP- Jennings
Effingham: Osborn (2 R HR, 1B 3 RBI); Pontius (1B, 2B, 2 RBI); Myers (1B, RBI); White (2 1B, RBI).
FLora: Hensley (1B, 2B, 3 RBI); Allen (1B, 2B, RBI); Corder (1B, RBI); Glassford (1B, RBI); Jennings (2 1B, RBI).