Photo by Caleb Motsinger
Jersey's Bethany Muenstermann slides into home plate Friday during Jersey's 9-8 win over Southwestern at home.
JERSEYVILLE – Macy Thurston sought a way to keep the Jersey High softball team pointed in the right direction Friday afternoon.
And with the game on the line, the senior did more than that for the host Panthers. She led the charge for a 9-8 comeback win over backyard rival Southwestern.
Thurston’s RBI double knotted the score in the bottom of the seventh and she subsequently scored on a throwing error as the Panthers improved to 2-1. The Piasa Birds are 0-3.
“It felt really good,” Thurston said of her game-tying double and then scoring the decisive run. “I was just looking to move the runner.”
Thurston, bound for Lewis and Clark Community College to play softball and volleyball, finished it in style. Her double drove in Bethany Muenstermann, who had singled in a run to tie things. And when Southwestern misplayed the relay throw, Thurston scooted home with the winner.
“When I saw what was going on, I thought I could score,” Thurston said. “I’ve never gotten a hit like that and then scored to win the game. It was a really good win for us.”
Panthers’ coach Julie Muenstermann echoed those sentiments. “It’s the first time we’ve beaten Southwestern in about 10 years, so it’s a big win for us,” she said. “We did a nice job of keeping our composure when we were down by two runs.
“That (last hit) was big for Macy and big for our team. I’m really optimistic about this team.”
Kayla Derstine added two hits for the Panthers, resourceful enough to score nine times on seven hits. They used a four-run fourth to grab a 6-2 lead. Southwestern led 2-0 in the first inning before Jersey tied it in the second.
A pair of bunt singles, two walks and Bethany Muenstermann’s RBI single highlighted Jersey’s big fourth. Ellie Tonsor’s two-run single proved pivotal in that inning.
“We had three innings when our bats went silent and we can’t do that,” Piasa Birds coach Peg Mitchell said. “We also made some mental mistakes that cost us and sometimes those mistakes don’t show up in the book.”
Ashton Tewell earned the victory against Southwestern’s Taylor Nixon, though Nixon helped herself with a two-run double in the top of the seventh. The Piasa Birds carried an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the inning, but couldn’t record an out.
“We played well and we kept our heads up in the last inning,” Thurston said of Jersey’s rally.
Lyndsey Snyder, Ashlyn Ringhausen, Kelsey Rhoades and Hannah Wilfong kept spurring the Piasa Birds. Snyder, headed to Kankakee Community College, blasted a two-run home run in the fifth and had a run-scoring double in the first. Her home run cleared the left field fence.
“We’re expecting big things from her,” Mitchell said.
Ringhausen went 3-for-4 with a double, while Rhoades was 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles. Her second one, a two-run shot in the seventh, sparked a four-run seventh and saw Southwestern overturn a two-run deficit. Wilfong went 2-for-4 and reached base three times.
Then Jersey returned the favor and embraced its win in the see-saw contest. “We finished it the right way,” Julie Muenstermann said.
The Panthers were scheduled to play host to Alton on Saturday morning. They are slated to go to Bunker Hill on Monday and Roxana on Wednesday. Jersey then has four more nonconference games before opening Mississippi Valley Conference action on April 14 against visiting Civic Memorial.
Southwestern, a member of the South Central Conference, was set to play Saturday at Metro East Lutheran in Edwardsville. The Piasa Birds welcome Rock Falls on Thursday and open SCC competition Friday at Hillsboro.