WOOD RIVER — The East Alton-Wood River Oilers remained undefeated in the Prairie State Conference after Thursday's contest against the Metro East Lutheran Knights in Wood River.
A strong performance from pitcher Morgan Moxey anchored the Oilers in the 3-1 win. Moxey, a sophomore, fanned 14 batters, walked two and gave up just two hits and one run. The sophomore struck out three in a row to end the fourth and struck out the first two batters in the seventh. In addition, Moxey crossed the 200-strikeout plateau for the season.
The Oilers improve to 15-17 overall and 4-0 in league play. It gives EA-WR a chance at a piece of the PSC crown with one game to play. Mount Olive visits Wood River at 4:30 p.m. today, a win will give the Oilers the outright championship; the first softball conference title in program history.
The Wildcats are 2-0 in the PSC with EA-WR, Marquette Catholic and Bunker Hill still on the schedule. If the Oilers lose today their fates will be in the hands of the Explorers and Minutemaids. At least one of them would have to beat Mount Olive to help EA-WR out. The Oilers would rather control their own destiny.
“It’s been our goal from the beginning, to win the conference and a regional,” EA-WR head coach Dana Emerick said.
Coach Emerick also talked off Moxey’s performance on the mound. He said she had “great speed” and “great movement.”
He added, “She’s why it’s 3-1. Without her pitching, we could have been beaten 5-3 or 6-3.”
Moxey sounded humble after earning her 12th win of the season, no sophomore in the history of EA-WR softball has compiled this many wins in one season.
“It was kind of a rough day today,” Moxey said. “But I was moving it inside and outside and then doing a rise ball every now and then.”
The Oilers established a lead in the second inning behind Haley Shewmake’s one-run double. MELHS (4-17, 0-5 PSC) stranded one runner in the second and another in the fourth.
EA-WR scored again in the fifth. Catcher Carly Campbell ran to first after a drop third strike and Moxey raced all the way from second base to score and make it 2-0.
The Knights scored their only run in the sixth on a passed ball. Metro shortstop Sam Kasting motored home to score on the play.
The Oilers added their third run in the seventh when Moxey’s sacrifice fly allowed Haley Shewmake to score, elevating the lead to 3-1.
For MELHS, outfielder Claire Cunningham singled in the fourth and shortstop Kasting doubled in the sixth. Knights' coach Colin McLaughlin felt timely hitting was a challenge.
“We had some errors but most of those errors didn’t come back and bite us,” McLaughlin said. “In the last few games, we get runners on and we can’t get them in for some reason.”
Cierra Frields worked all seven innings in the circle for MELHS. She struck out three batters, gave up five hits and one run.
“She hit her spots well and made the pitches she needed to make,” McLaughlin said. “For the most part, we made the plays on those pitches. I don’t know how many hits they had, but they made them count more than we did.”
Thursday's game was originally to be played at Sigmund Bohnet Field on the campus of MELHS, but wet conditions moved it to Wood River. It was senior day for the Knights, marking the second straight season they've had to celebrate senior day on the road due to weather restrictions.
MELHS return to action at 9 a.m. Saturday at Valmeyer.
The Knights then enter the Class 1A Lebanon Regional at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday against Valmeyer, while the Oilers are cast in the Class 2A Southwestern Regional. They face Staunton at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Piasa.