Photo by Bill Roseberry
East Alton-Wood River returns two battle-tested seniors for another season of action — outfielder Haley Shewmake and catcher Carley Campbell.
Shewmake earned all-Prairie State Conference honors last season, while Campbell was an Illinois Coaches’ Association 2A third-team all-state selection. Both Shewmake and Campbell have committed to play for Wabash Valley College, a community college in Mount Carmel.
EA-WR also returns juniors Peyton Young, a pitcher/utility player, and Morgan Moxey, a pitcher, who also earned all-conference selections. Head coach Dana Emerick starts his ninth season. The team finished last year with a 15-19 mark.
“He have two really good seniors,” Emerick said. “They’ll both be playing in college next year and we also have three solid pitchers. We have speed and pitching. If we can catch the ball, we should be tough.”
The Oilers lost 15-8 to Staunton in the 2A Southwestern Regional semifinals to end their 2016 season.
EA-WR lost three seniors last year — including all-conference selection Blake Marks.
The team finished the season with a 14-15 mark, but played well in conference and won the Prairie State Conference championship.
Three seniors are out for the team this year — Jake and Jamie Rustio and Christian Hunter. Coach Kyle Duncan expects his juniors, Tyler Hamby, Zach Wells, Ashton Murray, Zaide Wilson, Luke Westbrook and Hunter Hall, to make contributions.
“We have a really tough schedule in the beginning,” Duncan said. “We play teams like Breese Central, Breese Mater Dei and Civic Memorial. We struggled in the beginning of the schedule last year but started playing good baseball in the end. I think it was a lack of maturity. We played several sophomores last year. We have more experience this year.”
Longtime coach Russ Colona, who started as head coach at EA-WR in 1992, feels his team can repeat last year’s conference success.
The Oilers won the PSC last year, the third year in a row. The team lost just two seniors to graduation last spring. Senior Brenden Springman, EA-WR’s No. 1 runner in cross country in the fall, returns as a distance runner this year. Junior sprinters T.J. Lawson and Zach Womack also return for another season.
The girls lost just three seniors from a team that placed third in the PSC last year.
The girls were just 20 points out of first place and Colona hopes his team can place better this year.
Jumper and sprinter Carissa Gilreath, a senior, is the team’s returning high point scorer at conference. Colona said freshman hurdler and long jumper Leigh Ann Nottke also is showing some promise in early practices.
Matt Herndon returns for another season as head girls’ soccer coach with the Oilers.
The team struggled to a 3-14-1 record last year. However, the team’s young top scorer from last season, sophomore Kara Crutchley, who netted 13 goals, returns for another season of action.
EA-WR saw its season close in a 3-0 loss to Metro East Lutheran in a play-in game of the 1A Marquette Catholic Regional in 2016.