Photo by Bill Roseberry
Pictured are the seniors on the EA-WR softball team. From left to right are: Heather Martin, Courtney Beneke and Emme Flanigan.
The East-Alton Wood River Oilers softball team returns a group of players experienced in the heat of varsity action.
The Oilers lost just two seniors last year off a team that went 17-20, but one of those seniors is Victoria Beachum who went on to play Division I softball at SIUE. Beachum, the 2015 AdVantage News Softball Player of the Year, posted a 16-7 record with a 1.87 ERA and struck out 260 in 176 innings pitched.
Stepping up to fill Beachum's shoes is sophomore Megan Moxey, who will be the Oilers No. 1 pitcher this year. Last year Moxey was the No. 2 hurler, now that honor goes to sophomore Rebecca Null. EA-WR head coach Dana Emerick called Moxey “the most athletic kid on the team.”
Senior Heather Martin will place first base, junior Haley Shewmake will play second, senior Emme Flanigan will be the shortstop and Peyton Young, who hit .373 last year, will play third base.
In the outfield, sophomore Ashley Knight will play left field, senior Courtney Beneke will play center field and Null will play right field.
Carley Campbell, who hit .333 last season, will play catcher.
“Our defense is going to be solid,” Emerick said. “Our pitching is not going to be as good, so instead of winning 2-1 and 3-1 games we’re going to have to win some 6-5 and 7-6 games.”
Emerick also referred to EA-WR's hitting as “solid.”
“We’re bringing all of our bats back except one, we’ll be a tough out,” he said. “We set 12 school records on offense last year. We established five team records.”
The Oilers established team records for home runs in a season (12), runs scored in a season (198), hits in a season (298), batting average (.311) and RBI’s (162) in a season in the 2015 campaign, which saw them reach the regional finals. They dropped a heartbreaker 1-0 to Dupo in eight innings at the Class 2A Roxana Regional.
EA-WR players certainly earned recognition from coaches in the Prairie State Conference last year, too. Shewmake earned all-conference honors last season and hit .319. Moxey was also an all-conference selection in the outfield. She hit .363. Beneke was named all-conference as a utility player, as she hit .317. Beachum earned all-conference as a pitcher.
Beneke, Flanigan and Martin are the Oilers only seniors. Martin started playing varsity as a freshman. She hit .300 last year before her season was cut short by injury.
“I think we’re going to have a pretty solid year this year,” Martin said. “We’re going to be strong. As long as we’re playing well, we should be able to compete with anyone.”
Flanigan hit .283 in the 2015 season. This marks her fourth varsity season.
“I want to break as many school records as I can,” Flanigan said. “I would like to see us win more games and see us go further in regionals.”
Marquette won the Prairie State Conference last year and Emerick expects them to be the favorite again this season.
“The rest of the teams should be on our level,” he said. “Mount Olive and Bunker Hill, we should be looking them right straight in the eye. I don’t know much about Metro East (Lutheran). They were down last year, but I understand they’ve picked up some freshmen.”
Coach Emerick said the team looked strong in early practices.
“We’ve been outside,” he said. “We had a scrimmage on our first week on a Saturday, four innings. The girls looked good, they were a little bit rusty on communications, but these girls were playing all winter (club softball) and they’re ready to go.”
The Oilers were scheduled to kick off their season on Tuesday at home vs. Greenville, with a game Wednesday at Waterloo and Thursday at home against Wesclin. Next on the docket for EA-WR is an 11 a.m. contest Saturday at Carrollton. The Oilers open PSC play at 4:30 p.m. Monday at home vs. Bunker Hill.
Courtney Beneke UTL, C
Emme Flanigan SS
Heather Martin 1B, DH
Carly Campbell C
Haley Shewmake 2B
Theresa Hand UTL
Ashley Knight OF
Morgan Moxey P, OF
Rebecca Null OF, P
Peyton Young 3B, P
Kayla Aligholi UTL
Katie Booten UTL
EA-WR softball schedule
March 19 — at Carrollton, 11 a.m.
March 21 — vs. Bunker Hill*, 4:30 p.m.
March 22 — vs. Alton, 4 p.m.
March 25 — at Triad, 4:15 p.m.
March 28 — vs. Breese Central, 4:15 p.m.
March 29 — at Columbia, 4:30 p.m.
March 30 — vs. Mount Olive*, 4:30 p.m.
March 31 – at Dupo, 4:15 p.m.
April 2 — EA-WR Tournament, 10 a.m.
April 4 — at Granite City, 4 p.m.
April 5 — at Nokomis*, 4:30 p.m.
April 6 — vs. Roxana, 4 p.m.
April 7 — at Highland, 4:15 p.m.
April 8 — vs. Mascoutah, 4:15 p.m.
April 11 — at Collinsville, 4:30 p.m.
April 12 — vs. Brussels, 4:30 p.m.
April 14 — at Jersey, 4:30 p.m.
April 16 — Greenville Tournament, 8:30 a.m.
April 19 — vs. CM, 4 p.m.
April 21 — vs. Staunton, 4:30 p.m.
April 22 — vs. Carlinville, 5 p.m.
April 25 — vs. Marquette Catholic*, 4:30 p.m.
April 27 — vs. Southwestern, 4:30 p.m.
April 28 — at Gillespie, 4:30 p.m.
May 2 — at Roxana, 4 p.m.
May 4 — at Carlinville, 5 p.m.
May 6-7 — Alton Tournament, TBA
May 9 — vs. Hillsboro, 4:30 p.m.
May 11 — vs. Litchfield, 4:30 p.m.
May 12 — at MELHS*, 4 p.m.
*Denotes conference games