BETHALTO — The Civic Memorial Eagles were supposed to board the bus on Friday to Belleville Althoff to face the Crusaders. Althoff was stuck with a rain-soaked field, so the Eagles offered up their nest and took the visitors dugout to avoid the postponement.
Thanks to Shelby Whaley's no-hit hurling and Chloe Jennings' two home runs, the Eagles soared to a 10-0 victory in five innings. CM is now 1-1 after the Eagles lost their season opener to Collinsville 6-4. Althoff is 0-1, but satisfied to get some work in on the field.
“Today was our first game on a field," Althoff coach Carol Belleville said. "It's been hard to get these girls ready with our field in poor condition. I'm glad we were able to come to CM's field to actually log some time on the dirt. Their field is always pretty ready to go."
Lindsay Harris took the mound for the Crusaders and was the only returning player on the field for Althoff. Three of the first four Eagles were put to rest in the top of the first inning. CM's Whaley returned the favor, retiring the first three batters.
CM's Kylie Linkeman knocked a single and worked her way around the bases after senior Jennings belted a home run over the center-field fence. Whaley made the trip around the bases off an error during Cassie Albers at-bat to give the Eagles a three-run lead in the top of the second. The Eagles' defense locked down the Crusaders without allowing a hit to close the inning.
They stretched their lead in the third inning with back-to-back solo home runs by Susan Buchanan and Kaitlyn Turbyfill to make the score to 5-0. Althoff's Harris then closed out the next three batters to send CM back to the field.
Buchanan tagged Libby Fries out at first base before Whaley walked Laura Simineaux to put the first Althoff runner on base in the bottom of the third. Simineaux advanced to second with two outs following a walk to Harris. Whaley retired the side when Manny Babbic chased a high fast ball to end the inning. The Eagles remained in command of things.
"I'm very pleased to say I have a group of girls that want to win," CM head coach Mike Eddy said. "They want to succeed and I do believe they really pick each other up. If they continue that trend, they'll have a great season this year."
Jennings kicked off the fourth inning with a single. Then she advanced to second base. Cassie Albers sent Jennings home with a double to center. Kelsey Deaton drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-0.
Whaley regained her form to make it a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth and the Eagles were back in the swing of things.
Turbyfill started the Eagles' fifth with a leadoff double and scored on a double by Kalyn Harr. With two outs, Jennings nailed a long shot over the fence for her second home run of the game to give CM a 10-run advantage.
CM closed out the Crusaders in the bottom of the fifth after facing just three batters to end the game early for the Eagles' first victory of the season.
"It starts with solid pitching," Eddy said. "We had a no-hitter from Shelby (Whaley), two walks kept her from getting a perfect game. Althoff put the ball in play a couple of times, but we made the plays, so it was a complete effort. But I have to say it all started with Shelby.
Eddy added: "On offense, your leadoff hitter is going to see six-to-10 more at-bats than anyone else. Chloe (Jennings) is my No. 1 hitter, so it makes sense to have her get as many trips to the box plate as we can. I know she can get things started for us.
"All-in-all, I'm extremely proud of how we played and performed today."
The Eagles welcome Belleville East at 4:15 Monday.