BETHALTO — Confidence is key for the Civic Memorial Eagle softball team.
Junior second baseman Cassie Albers said if the Eagles start believing in themselves good things should come. She hopes a 6-4 win over Greater Alton area rival Roxana on Thursday at the Bethalto Sports Complex will help.
The win raised CM to .500 at 6-6 on the season, while the Shells slipped to 6-9.
“A lot of it is actually staying positive,” said Albers, who went 1 for 3 in the game with a two-run double. “We get down on ourselves and that's our biggest issue and we sometimes get down on each other, but today we stayed positive and it helps tremendously.”
The Eagles had to find that positive outlook Thursday after falling behind 1-0 after a half inning of play.
Roxana pitcher Hannah Rexford led off with a hit and was sacrificed to second by Elizabeth Rexford before coming around to score on a CM error to stake the Shells to a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles answered swiftly. In the bottom of the first Chloe Jennings coaxed a leadoff walk and was bunted to second by Shelby Whaley. Katelyn Turbyfill was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Kelsey Deaton slapped a RBI single to plate Jennings and tie the game at 1-1 and a two-out infield single by freshman Susan Buchanan chased home Turbyfill to propel CM in front 2-1.
It looked like it may stay that way as Whaley and Hannah Rexford both settled in, but Eagles' head coach Mike Eddy was pretty certain it would take more offense and he was right.
CM was finally able to scratch three more across in the fifth, taking advantage of a pair of Roxana field miscues. It was Albers two-run double to deep center that highlighted the inning though and Eddy was glad to see her break out.
“She's been struggling just a little bit here,” Eddy said of Albers. “She struck out her first two at-bats, but I've got all the confidence in the world in her and so does my assistant coach (Luke) Angelo. We keep saying the same thing, 'These girls are better than what their record is, but if you don't put the game together offensively and defensively it doesn't matter.'”
It was the errors that hindered the Shells. They ended up committing three of them, leading to four unearned runs for the Eagles. CM plated an insurance unearned run in the sixth when Baylee Hampton stroked a two-out double and then scored on another Roxana hiccup to make it 6-1.
“Defensively when you're not scoring runs and it stays 2-1 it's who is going to make that first mistake and we made it,” Shells' head coach Mike Arbuthnot said. “We made a couple mistakes in the field and they were able to cash in on it and like I told the kids, when you're down 6-1 coming back five runs is a lot.”
But Roxana still made a valiant effort. In the top of the seventh the Shells began to show some life at the plate. Andrea Lawson led off with a single and that self-doubt seemed to rear its ugly head for CM as Whaley divvied out free passes to Hannah Rexford and Elizabeth Rexford to load the bags.
Abbey Palen then supplied a two-run single to dwindle the deficit to 6-3. Cindy Scroggins' single through the middle reloaded the bases and Eddy called a timeout and gathered his infield around the Whaley.
“I went out there and said, 'Hey Shelby, this is your game and the bottom line is you've got to be mentally tough. Throw strikes and your defense will get the job done,'” Eddy said. “I just tried to instill in her a level of confidence and that I believe that she is a good pitcher.”
CM recorded the first out of the inning with an infield pop up on the next batter. Pheobe Booher then lofted a sac fly to center to score Elizabeth Rexford and shrink it to a 6-4 game, but that proved all Roxana could get as Whaley closed out the game by walking Sam Sherer but striking out Lindsey Scroggins to end the game.
“Early going we had some pretty bad at-bats,” Arbuthnot said. “We were swinging at 3-1 pitches and popping balls up and we stranded a lot of runners early. We just needed to do a lot better at the plate in those first six innings than we did.”
Whaley went the distance for the Eagles, fanning six but walking five while surrendering six hits.
On the other side, the freshman Hannah Rexford tossed six innings, fanning four, walking one and hitting a batter while scattering six hits. She allowed six runs, but only the two in the first inning were earned.
“She's throwing the ball well for us,” Arbuthnot said. “Every time out she gives us a great chance to win and for a freshman I'm very happy with her. She's getting better with each start and she's had some real nice outings for us, but we've got to be able to back her up.”
For CM, Eddy hopes Thursday's win can be the spark the Eagles need.
“We are at the stage now where we need to find a win or two just to build some things, get some momentum going our way,” Eddy said. “We've got to build on this and get a win streak going.”
Albers echoes the same sentiment. “Just being positive helps a lot. I've noticed the games where we're positive we win and games we're negative we lose.”
CM 6, ROXANA 4
ROXANA 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 — 4 6 3
CM 2 0 0 0 3 1 X — 6 6 1
CM (6-6) — Chloe Jennings 0-3 BB, Shelby Whaley 0-3 SAC, Katelyn Turbyfill 0-2 HBP, Kelsey Deaton 2-3 RBI, Cassie Albers 1-3 2B 2 RBIs, Susan Buchanan 1-3 RBI, Kylie Linkeman 1-3, Baylee Hampton 1-2 2B SAC.
WP — Whaley 7.0IP 6H 4R 3ER 5BB 6K
ROXANA (6-9) — Hannah Rexford 1-3 BB SB, Elizabeth Rexford 1-2 BB SAC, Abbey Palen 2-4 SB 3 RBIs, Cindy Scroggins 2-4 SB, Phoebe Booher 0-2 BB SAC RBI, Sam Sherer 0-3 BB, Andrea Lawson 1-2 BB.
LP — Hannah Rexford 6.0IP 6H 6R 2ER 1BB 4K 1HBP