ST. JOSEPH — Allie Place's eyes were a little more red than they otherwise might be in this instance. Some leftover welled-up tears accompanied that feature.
The St. Joseph-Ogden senior wasn't upset by her softball performance Wednesday against Fisher. She went 3 for 3 with two RBI and a run scored.
She wasn't frustrated by her team's result, as the Spartans earned a 9-5 victory over the Bunnies in a matchup of squads with extended postseason aspirations.
No, Place was just thinking about her time at Randy Wolken Field coming to an end. Wednesday's bout marked SJ-O's Senior Day, after all, and Place was among seven Spartans recognized before the game.
"It's emotional. It's really emotional," Place said after the win. "It's been a long four years, and I'm going to miss it a lot."
Place and her teammates are far from done in 2018, of course. SJ-O improved to 19-3 with this result and later in the day earned a No. 1 seed in the Class 2A playoffs.
But high school careers are winding down among that seven-strong crew, which has garnered two state softball appearances, three sectional crowns and two regional championships,
"It's nice for us to have the win (on Senior Day)," Spartans coach Randy Wolken said. "We have a really core group of seniors that we rely on to do the job for us, and they've done it for four years."
All of SJ-O's on-the-field upperclassmen, including Place, had an impact on Wednesday's result.
Frankie Izard tossed three one-run innings and recorded an RBI. Both Emmy Graver and Kenzie Pence scored a run. Sydney Kelso knocked an RBI double and later crossed home. And Aspyn Taylor potted three hits and two RBI before starting a game-ending double play from second base in the top of the seventh.
This wasn't just the Spartan Show, though, as the Bunnies (19-6) declined to back down from their bigger-school foe.
Senior Kylie Terven blasted a three-run homer, while senior Becca Clanton added a solo shot and junior Shelbee Owens posted an RBI single.
"(SJ-O is) a great team. Look at this atmosphere. There's people everywhere," Fisher coach Ken Ingold said. "It can't do anything but help our girls and help our program to play in an atmosphere like this. And I thought we played pretty well."
Though the Spartans never cleared the fence against Bunnies junior hurler Sydney Eichelberger, they tagged her for 16 hits and a five-run second frame as the wind howled out to straightaway center field.
Even with such weather creating a possible no-lead-is-safe scenario, Place said the Spartans put little emphasis on trying to send the ball out of the park.
"Are we worried about hitting home runs? No," she said. "They'll come when they come. We don't need to hit home runs for power."
The visitors had plenty of scoring bids beyond their two dingers and five runs, drawing six walks and leaving seven runners on base.
"I would love to have a couple innings back," Ingold said. "You know St. Joe's going to score, especially in this atmosphere, so you've got to take advantage of every opportunity."
Fisher will not see SJ-O come postseason time, as the Bunnies vie for 1A supremacy. They've fared well in recent campaigns, boasting five straight regional titles and a fourth-place state showing in 2016.
That's why, for as much as Ingold touted the importance of his girls getting to take on the Spartans, Wolken found similar value in the bout.
"They're a good fundamental team," Wolken said. "Sydney Eichelberger is a good pitcher. You're not going to just tee off on her."
SJ-0 already was moving on from this outcome shortly after it was decided, with the Spartans heading to Monticello today for an Illini Prairie Conference event. Senior Day is in the books.
So what does SJ-O need to do to get back to East Peoria and over that state hump?
"We have to bunt better," Place said, echoing her coach's sentiments. "We've just to to all be going at the same time and all be ready to hit at the same time."