Softball

With weather that was more suited to polar bears and icebergs, Effingham St. Anthony High School played host to Charleston in girls' softball action Wednesday at Evergreen Hollow Park.

Arctic winds howled across the diamond and hampered ball movement but not enough so the Bulldogs couldn't battle to a 4-2 non-conference victory over the Trojans. The game was shortened to five innings due to the weather conditions.

"The wind was a definite deterrent for both teams," said St. Anthony Coach Dave Schuette "But despite the conditions, I thought the girls played well and we came up defensively once again."

The Bulldogs had one big inning, the third, when everything fell into place. Trailing 1-0 after the Trojans scored in the top of the third, St. Anthony started off the frame when Nicole Haarmann drew a walk. Haarmann went to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on another sacrifice bunt.

Now with two outs there didn't seem to be much hope the Bulldogs were going to knot the score. But Nikki Gray, a junior, came up with a double to centerfield scoring courtesy runner Michelle Dasenbrock.

Kayla McLeod followed with a walk from Trojan pitcher Braddi Reed. Sophomore Allison Murphy came through on a two-strike swing for a single bringing home Gray. Designated player Kelly Jansen, a freshman, followed with a single hitting the first pitch and driving in McLeod and Murphy and suddenly the Bulldogs led 4-1.

Jessica Keller and Heather Esker drew walks to load the bases and chase Reed from the mound. Charleston's Devan Finley came on in relief and got the final out of the inning.

The Bulldogs came up with several big plays defensively particularly at first base as Heather Esker grabbed a couple pop fouls. Esker chased down a pop foul in the fourth after Charleston put a runner on base. Esker made a diving stab and finished out the inning with an unassisted putout at first.

The Trojans broke loose to score a run in the fifth. Both hits in the frame came on infield singles that were just out of reach of Bulldog infielders. But Hannah Esker produced the final out on a strikeout to end the game.

"We had some big hits in the third inning as Gray, Murphy and Jansen came through at the right time," said Coach Schuette. "We strung the hits together at the right time and produced the runs we needed."

St. Anthony finished with five hits in the game as Murphy had two singles and an RBI. Gray had a double and an RBI and drew two walks in her three at-bats. Hannah Esker pitched a four-hitter with one walk and three strikeouts.

The Bulldogs improve to 4-1 on the season and are back in action Monday with a National Trail Conference doubleheader at Altamont.

Millie Lange can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 124 or millie.lange@effinghamdailynews.com

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