GODFREY – Kallen Loveless returned to the Edwardsville High School softball lineup in a dramatic way Monday.
She emerged a difference-maker. Just ask the Alton Redbirds about it.
Loveless, a senior bound for Saint Louis University, guided the Tigers by the Redbirds, 11-1, in a six-inning Class 4A Alton Regional finale. The 27-4 Tigers play Belleville East at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday during a sectional semifinal in Collinsville. The Redbirds ended their season at 20-15, including three losses to Edwardsville.
“She (Loveless) did a great job,” Alton coach Dan Carter said. “She’s a good all-around player and Edwardsville is a well-rounded team.”
Not only did Loveless throttle the Redbirds on three hits in a 10-strikeout performance, she spurred their attack with three hits and five RBIs. Her fourth-inning grand slam made it 9-1 and the Tigers closed it out from there.
“It was Kallen’s first game back for us and she can be a difference-maker,” Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said.
Loveless, who improved to 18-1, missed several games because of an injury.
She said, “It feels good to be back and I feel 100 percent. I’ve never hit a grand slam and that’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.
“I was ready to come back and be sharp for the team.”
Blade added, “She was anxious to get back and we’re just glad to have her back.”
Edwardsville took advantage of two Alton errors to score five unearned runs in the second inning against Redbirds’ pitcher Brittany Roady. Ari Arnold stroked a two-run single and Jordan Corby belted a two-run double to highlight that big inning.
“That five-run inning really helped me,” Loveless said. “The run support was great.”
Blade said, “I liked the way that we got those five runs in the second inning. We did a good job of hitting with two outs.”
Katleyn Presley of the Redbirds clouted a solo home run to make it 5-1 in the third. Yet the Birds didn’t get another hit the rest of the game. Rachel McCoy had singled for them in the second inning.
“It was my first home run of the year and it felt good,” said Presley a junior third baseman.
Loveless’ slam gave the Tigers an eight-run lead. Corby’s sacrifice fly in the fifth drove home Katelyn Bobrowski, who doubled to start the inning. Megan Radae’s sacrifice fly in the sixth completed the scoring and provided the Tigers with their fourth consecutive regional championship.
Hayli Green went 3-for-4 and Corby drove in three runs to back Loveless, who also singled home a run in the second inning. Rachel Anderson drew three walks and reached base four times.
“We gave them five unearned runs in the second inning and then things began to snowball,” Carter said. “We tried to fight our way out of it, but we knew we’d have to play our ‘A’ game to have a chance to beat them. We didn’t do that.”
Roady, finishing her season with a 16-13 record, allowed 10 hits and five earned runs in six innings. She struck out two and walked five.
Next up for Edwardsville is Belleville East, which finished second to the Tigers in the Southwestern Conference chase this season. The Tigers finished 14-0, while the Lancers went 12-2.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Blade said of Tuesday’s game.
CLASS 4A ALTON REGIONAL
EDWARDSVILLE 11, ALTON 1, six innings
Alton 001 000 – 1 2 3
Edwardsville 050 41 1 –11 10 0
Alton (20-15) – Katelyn Presley 1-3 HR RBI, Rachel McCoy 1-2. LP – Brittany Roady IP-6 H-10 R-10 ER-5 BB-5 K-2
Edwardsville (27-4) – Ari Arnold 1-3 RBI-2, Jordan Corby 1-3 2B RBI-3, Kallen Loveless 3-4 HR RBI-5, Sara Radae 1-1,Hayli Green 3-4 RBI, Katelyn Bobrowski 1-3 2B, Megan Radae 0-2 RBI. WP – Loveless IP-6 H-2 R-1 ER-1 BB-1 K-10