WOOD RIVER ̶ East Alton-Wood River Oilers hurler Victoria Beachum managed to rack up 16 strikeouts on Friday, but the Alton Redbirds went home with a 2-1 win.
The Birds improved to 6-6 in the non-conference matchup while the Oilers dipped to 6-11 for the season.
Defense and pitching was key for both the Oilers and the Redbirds, with both teams going scoreless until the top of the fourth inning. Alton junior Katelyn Presley got the ball rolling for the Redbirds with a base hit to right field. Beachum found her zone and produced two K's before sophomore Savannah Fisher connected for a double to score Presley, putting Alton on the board.
"Luckily we were able to get a couple hits to get the first one across the plate," Alton head coach Dan Carter said. "Katelyn Presley led us off with that big hit to get her on base and with Savannah's hit to get Katelyn home. We needed to take advantage of every opportunity we had."
The Oilers answered back in the bottom of the fifth with a triple by sophomore Haley Shewmake, putting a runner in scoring position. Kaleigh Young sent Shewmake home to earn the RBI and tie the game for EA-WR. Young and Morgan Moxey would be left on the bags as the Redbird defense closed out the Oilers to end the inning.
Alton freshman Shannon Jackson made it to the bag after falling behind the count with two strikes. With a runner aboard, freshman Miranda Hudson knocked a double to put runners at first and third. Fisher was able to finish the job for the Redbirds with a base hit to bring Jackson home for the tie-breaker.
The Oilers loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs, but couldn't capitalize to make a gain against the Redbirds defense. The Redbirds squeaked by with a close win over the Oilers with a 2-1 final.
"Sixteen strikeouts ̶ yeah, she's that good," EA-WR head coach Dana Emerick said. "It's too bad we didn't give her a little more support on offense today. It wasn't the two that got us; it was the one. That's where we're at right now. Now we need to try to address things and get things going. We've been running hot and cold this season. We were hot yesterday; today we were a little cold as a whole. Consistency is what we need."
Carter said his team may have found something for his Redbirds to build on.
"Any time you face a great pitcher like Tori (Beachum), you know runs are going to be hard to come by," Carter said. "We tried to do some bunting against her and that didn't work. Fischer came up a second time and did a great job with the drag bunt and caught them off guard. We kept our composure today ̶ it wasn't pretty, but we got the job done. We've had several games this season that were close and they didn't go our way. Today we were able to finish the game. I'm hoping we can build on that."
Pitching is key in any softball game. Carter was thrilled with his starter against the Oilers.
"I'm real pleased with Roady (Brittany)," he said. "She got a little gassed there at the end, but she did great keeping us in the game."
Beachum is climbing closer and closer to the EA-WR all-time strikeout record held by 2006 graduate Amanda Hill with 669 K's.
"I feel really confident with my team behind me," Beachum said. "Our defense is so good this year, so much better than past years ̶ that makes me feel really good and really confident out there. I think once we get our bats together, we have the potential to be really awesome."
The Oilers didn't have much time to think about Friday's loss as they boarded the bus early Saturday morning for the Greenville tournament that began at 8:30 a.m. The Redbirds will have a few days off to rest before heading to Civic Memorial at 4:15 p.m. April 24.
ALTON 2 EA-WR 1
ALTON 0001010 2 4 0
EA-WR 0000100 1 5 0
ALTON: Shannon Jackson 1-2, Savannah Fisher 2-3 2RBIs, Katelyn Presley 1-2
Brittany Roady IP-7, H-5, R-1, BB-1, K-3
EA-WR: Morgan Moxey 1-4, Emme Flannigan 1-4, Carly Campbell 1-4, Heather Martin 1-3, Haley Shewmake 1-3, Kaleigh Young 1-3, 2W, RBI
Victoria Beachum IP-7, H-4, BB-1, K-16