By BRADEN LAYER
---- — For the last four years, coach Crystal Tipton has been at the helm for St. Anthony in the City Series rivalry between the Bulldogs and Effingham Lady Hearts. And, much to the displeasure of Effingham fans, and delight of St. Anthony faithful, Tipton has directed her squad to a series win.
Last year was no different, as St. Anthony won all three games to sweep the City Series and prevail once more, though it wasn't without a battle."All three were one-run games," Effingham coach Jerry Trigg said. "This time we can hopefully pull off a couple of them."To help turn the tide against the Bulldogs, Effingham will likely lean on the arms of Deedra Myers and Ciara Kronewitter. The two form a tough 1-2 punch that will attempt to bring a series championship back to Grove Avenue."They both have been our most consistent pitchers," Trigg said. "Deedra especially. Ciara was the winner against Altamont, didn't walk anyone. That's going to be the key, for them to hit their spots. They both pitch very well at times, we're expecting the same in the series, we're not expecting to go back. We want to move forward."The St. Anthony-Teutopolis rivalry is a fiery contest that always draws intense emotion, but don't discount the passion of the City Series.
Tipton said that although it's undoubtedly different, the two schools badly want to send the other home with a loss."They know each other, some of them play summer ball together," she said. "It's not so much a rivalry with the school, but with the players."Trigg concurred, saying that that his job is pretty easy when it comes to motivating players for the City Series."The kids all know one another well, they want to have the bragging rights of winning that series," Trigg said. "I really don't feel like I have to motivate, I have to get them to focus better. Sometimes they're thinking about the rivalry, not thinking about playing ball."If there is any distraction at the onset, St. Anthony's Makayla Walsh will have the Lady Hearts thinking back to the game in a hurry. Walsh is a threat both at the plate and on the mound, and Trigg said he's well aware of the damage she can deal."We will definitely have our eye on her," he said. "Keeping track of her at-bats, we're going to try and mix it up, keep her guessing."The series, which will feature one game each day from Wednesday to Friday, typically attracts some of the largest crowds either team will see during the year, forcing the players to settle down quickly and get used to the added exposure.
"I think everybody is a little nervous going in," Trigg said. "A lot of the parents and families and some of the boys from the school come out and show support. We see a lot of people we don't normally see."St. Anthony also sets aside one night to honor the seniors, and with Effingham hosting on Wednesday and Friday, the Lady Bulldogs will pay homage to their upperclassmen Thursday evening.
"We couldn't pick a better team to do it against," Tipton said. "There's so much respect between the teams, these seniors look forward to this night, it's recognition for four years of hard work."Nobody on the Lady Bulldogs' roster has had to deal with a City Series loss in their high school careers, and Tipton's squad hopes to keep it that way."The City Series brings out a large crowd, the atmosphere is completely different," she said. "We don't think of ourselves as the small school. We've got what we've got."