Red Devils Drop Season-opening North Central Series

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. — On the first day of its softball campaign, Eureka ran into a seasoned North Central squad.

The result was a pair of wins for the Cardinals, who improved to 10-0 at Shanower Family Field Friday afternoon.

North Central minimized a late rally to escape with a 6-4 victory in Game 1 and followed up with a 7-1 win in Game 2 to seal the sweep.

Game 1: North Central 6, Eureka 4

Eureka scored all four of its runs during the sixth inning off five hits and an error. The Red Devils were down 5-0 at the time.

Gabby Wood (Bartonville, Ill. / Limestone) drove in the first run of the season with a triple to right-center that scored Morgan Osborn (Washington, Ill./Washington), who led off with a double. Allison Cagley (Fairbury, Ill./Prairie Central) then doubled to right field to bring Wood home and make it 2-0.

Later, with the bases loaded, Erin Smith (Dunlap, Ill. / Dunlap) knocked an RBI single down the left-field line, and Faith Bachtold (Fairbury, Ill./Prairie Central) delivered a sacrifice fly to right. Two batters after that, Sydney Shubert (Canton, Ill./Canton) singled to left, but Klaire Wilmot (La Salle, Ill./La Salle-Peru) was thrown out at the plate, ending the rally with two left on base.

The Cardinals scored a run in the first and second inning, then tacked on three in the fifth and answered with one more after the Red Devils' four-run sixth.

Smith, the Red Devils' Game 1 starting pitcher, allowed 12 hits in six innings, but only conceded one walk and two earned runs. The Cardinals, meanwhile, parlayed three EC errors into four runs.

EC tallied nine hits, scattering four around the five-hit sixth. Osborn and Cagley both notched a pair of doubles, while Smith, Shubert and Adrianna Zeman (La Salle, Ill./La Salle-Peru) all singled and Wood notched the first triple of the season.

Rachele Belletini went 3-for-4 for the Cardinals, and Jamie Smith and Nykia Wetterman added two hits apiece.

Game 2: North Central 7, Eureka 1

After missing several chances to get on the board in the first five innings, Eureka finally avoided getting shut out with a run in the seventh inning. It came on a sacrifice fly by Osborn that scored Wilmot, who led off the inning with a single. Raelyn Payne (Lexington, Ill./Lexington) doubled in the next at-bat to put Wilmot on third.

The Red Devils outhit North Central 8-6 in the game but were unable to capitalize with two runners on in the first four innings.  

Payne, Shubert, Osborn all had two hits apiece, and Bachtold and Wilmot each had one.

The Cardinals scored all seven runs off five hits and one error in the first two innings. Freshman Sidney Wightman (Waterloo, Ill./Gibault Catholic) threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in her EC debut, only allowing one hit and one walk after replacing Wood in the circle in the second.

Eureka (0-2) will host Blackburn (3-9) in their St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference home-opening doubleheader on Saturday at 12 p.m.