LOUISVILLE - Coming off a 12-2 victory Monday over Grayville, the North Clay bats were at it again early yesterday afternoon against South Central. The Cardinals tacked on four runs in the first inning, taking advantage of a number of walks and timely hitting.Not another North Clay run was scored from there, but with Nick McKnelly on the mound, it didn't matter. McKnelly pitched seven innings of shutout baseball, striking out six batters to guide the Cardinals to a 4-0 win over the Cougars."We're lucky that Nick threw a great game," North Clay coach John Frech said. "That's probably one of the best he's had in his four-year career."McKnelly was in complete control for the duration of the game, never facing more than five batters in one inning. By the end of the seven-inning contest, McKnelly had faced just 25 batters at the plate, four above the minimum.Even more impressive, the Cardinals' ace finished the day with no walks. South Central had three hits on the afternoon, and McKnelly hit one batter for a free bag."He pounded the zone," Frech said. "It's something that we've been working on with him, just a phenomenal game. I told him, 'We're not going to give them freebies.'"Pitching with the lead also helped Frech's starter, as the Cardinals were able to score early and often. South Central pitcher Daniel Diss started the first inning with walks to North Clay's Lawson Britton and Nate Micklautz. Adam Cox sent Britton home one batter later on a sacrifice fly to left field, and another walk to Logan Hilderbrand loaded the bases with one out."It's unusual from Diss," Cougars coach Curt Jones said. "He's so consistent."Diss rebounded by striking out Hunter Clifton, but Dylan Walker sent two runs home with a single to left field that snuck past Austin Schwarm to allow the runner to coast into second. Two batters later, McKnelly delivered at the plate, dropping a single short in center that plated Walker for the 4-0 lead. "It was just key hitting," Frech said. "That's what the game of baseball is all about. Everything has got to be on time."The three-run, two-out rally in the first provided all the offense North Clay needed and more. The Cardinals cooled off for the remainder of the game, finishing with four hits, none coming after the end of the third inning."It was real huge playing with the lead," Frech said. "We characteristically don't score until late. In a perfect world I'd like to have kept tacking on, I think we lost our focus."McKnelly didn't lose his, and the pitcher's determination propelled the Cardinals to yet another big win. Pitching equally as strong at the end of the contest, McKnelly got South Central to go 1-2-3 in each of the last three innings, appropriately ending the game by fanning the Cougars' Shawn Meyer.
Newton scrimmages on media night
For the first time this season, the Newton Eagles played in front of their home fans during the teams media night Friday at Newton High School.
Each varsity and junior varsity team was introduced before the scrimmage and got a round of applause from the fans. Along with the scrimmage, fans were able to purchase Eagles gear and other items.
Altamont edged in opener by Flora
Despite having Adam Mayhaus grab the medal, it was Flora who grabbed the win in Altamont's first outing of the season.
Flora shot a 197 at St. Elmo Golf Club, taking down the Indians by six strokes on the day, as Altamont shot a 203 on the afternoon.
Illini coach Groce stops in Effingham; Speech focuses on team building
A crowded ballroom met for "An Evening with John Groce” Thursday inside the Thelma Keller Convention Center.
Groce has been the men's basketball coach at the University of Illinois since March 2012. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Ohio University, where he led the Bobcats to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2012.
His speech was focused on team building and Groce said it was the a variation of the same speech he will give Sunday evening at his beginning-of-the-year players' meeting.
St. Anthony second at Charleston scramble
In their first meet of the season, the St. Anthony Bulldogs came out firing, taking second place at the Charleston Invitational Thursday afternoon.
The tournament was a scramble at Charleston Country Club, and the hosting Trojans took home the tournament with a combined score of 72. St. Anthony was five shots back, shooting a 77. Effingham finished fourth with an 88, and Teutopolis took ninth with a 98.
Czachorski: Lunt the right man at QB
There haven't been many times I've put pen to paper — or I guess more fittingly finger to keyboard — and written about the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Part of it is due to their football team's struggles, as it's hard to have an opinion on them outside of "man, they went 1-7 in the Big 10 last year" or "I remember that one time they went to the Rose Bowl, but that's about it." Part of it is staying in my wheelhouse, which is MAC football and my alma mater Central Michigan Chippewas, a topic that doesn't concern many, if any, around here.
Neoga prepares for upcoming volleyball season
Another area team finds themselves with a new coach holding the clipboard this season.
Susan Hutchinson is the new volleyball coach for the Neoga Indians, but she isn't new to the game of volleyball. Hutchinson coached at Mattoon for seven years when they were still in the Big 12 Conference. She said her new players had to get used to her coaching style very quickly.
Bulldogs fifth at ISU
St. Anthony took to the links for the second-straight day and had a strong showing at the Raider/Redbird Classic.
The Bulldogs finished fifth among a 20-team field, shooting a 318. East Peoria shot a 312 to win it, Normal U-High and Lincoln each shot 315s with Normal winning the tie-breaker, and Bloomington took fourth with a 317.
St. Anthony will lead with speed
For the last five years, Eric Morales has been the assistant coach of the St. Anthony Bulldogs soccer team. But this season he will have his chance at the helm and try to help lead the Bulldogs to their first regional title since 2010.
St. Anthony is missing six seniors from last years team, including its leading goal scorer and starting goalie.
Flaming Hearts win St. Anthony Invitational
The Flaming Hearts of Effingham were the overall winners and also had the medalist. Effingham shot a team score of 312 to beat the host Bulldogs by nine shots. Hearts senior Jackson Wendling finished with a 72 to take medalist honors.
Teutopolis takes opener against St. Thomas More
Teutopolis took the course with a new coach and four players, but as coach Becky Probst said, it takes four to score.
And those four Lady Shoes took their first match of the year, topping Champaign St. Thomas More 216-227 in both teams' openers at Cardinal Golf Course in Effingham.
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