There was more to Thursday’s Wabash Valley softball doubleheader sweep over Great Rivers Athletic Conference rival Lake Land than first meets the eye.
Above and beyond what it did to the GRAC standings — with WVC leapfrogging over the Lady Lakers and into sole possession of first place — the wins were just as important for what they may have done to the psychies of the two teams involved.
“They’ve kind of ruled the roost the last two years, so it was important that we establish that we can win,” said Hall of Fame WVC coach Paul Schnarre after the sweep on the field that bears his name. “Now we’ve won three out of four (against Lake Land).”
Wabash Valley (36-7 overall) is now 25-2 in the GRAC after the 3-1 and 7-5 victories, while Lake Land (43-9) fell one loss back to 21-3 in league play.
Don’t be surprised if Wabash Valley and Lake Land meet again in May for the Region 24 softball championship. But for today (Thursday), when the two meet for a 2 p.m. doubleheader at Paul Schnarre Field, the Great Rivers Athletic Conference championship may be on the line.
WVC (24-2 in GRAC, 34-7 overall) knows that, barring an unforseen upset, it must sweep the 2 p.m. twinbill to overtake Lake Land (21-1, 43-7 overall) and grab the lead in the league race. A split, which happened Sunday in Mattoon, will probably not be good enough with just four GRAC games left after today.
The Lady Warriors readied for the showdown with a 7-3 and 12-3 sweep of Lincoln Trail Wednesday. In the opener, Kalyn Chapman got the win. In the second game, Amanda Gilliland hit a 3-run homer and Cortney Norris added a long 2-run shot.
Olney, after getting a home run in the top of the eighth inning to take the lead, threw the tying run out at the plate to end the game for a 13-12 non-conference softball win over Mt. Carmel Tuesday.
The Lady Aces, trailing after Olney’s Barnick hit a one-out solo blast in the top of the eighth, created a scoring opportunity in the home half when Ashley Coleman opened with a walk. Carmen Deisher moved her to second on a sacrifice. A walk to Emily Emmons and a wild pitch put runners on the corners with one out.
Eryn Gould lofted a fly ball to right. Coleman tagged at third, but was cut down at home plate trying to score for the final out.
MATTOON, Ill. — Wabash Valley tied Lake Land for first place in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference softball race Sunday with a 6-0 win in the first game of a doubleheader.
The tie didn’t last long. Lake Land came back with an 8-0 victory in the second game to regain a one-game lead on the loss side over WVC.
The Lady Warriors (33-7, 22-2) won their eighth straight game in the opener. Kalyn Chapman 4-hit the Lady Lakers to improve to 18-4 on the year. She struck out 10. Kennedy Christy was 3-of-4 at the plate with an RBI.
In the nitecap, Lake Land (43-7, 21-1) burst open a scoreless game with a five-run third against WVC starter Shelby Pinkstaff (11-3). The Lady Warriors, meanwhile, were being one-hit by Carley Murphy, who fanned eight.
After her team’s first softball loss of the year, Mt. Carmel coach Sarah Pearson was already concerned about what could happen next.
Might the Lady Aces, instead of embracing this new-found habit of winning, retreat into the recent past?
“I hope they don’t, or I’m not doing my job,” said Pearson after Thursday’s 8-1 loss to visiting Princeton in the Big 8 Conference opener after opening the season with three straight wins. “There are things that I’m impressed that they didn’t get down about.”