RANTOUL — The Rantoul Eagles fell behind early against the Danville Vikings, but came back in a big way with their bats to get the win in its last regular home game on Wednesday in high school girls softball. 

The Eagles put away the Vikings 17-6 in five innings in a game called early via the 10-run rule. 

The Vikings pushed across four runs in the top of the first inning, but the Eagles responded in that same inning.

A walk, a double and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for Lexi Sherrick. Sherrick’s base hit to center field plated two runs, cutting the lead in half, 4-2.

The next batter, Jenna Sanford, doubled to cut the Vikings’ lead to one. Jerzie Grob hit an RBI single to tie the game 4-4. Sanford scored from third with one out after Kianna Berlatsky-Gorrell grounded out. The Eagles were in the lead after the first, 5-4.

“We just stayed relax,” Sherrick said. “We had to hit the ball and find a way to get on base to get back into the game.”

Seven singles and a walk produced another five runs for the Eagles in the second inning for a 9-4 lead.

Sanford was 3 for 4 with two doubles and a single, giving her four RBI. Bella Shields was also 3 for 4 with three RBI. Jada Mosley doubled and scored twice. 

For the Vikings, Saige Keller was 2 for 3 with a double and RBI single.

“We did a phenomenal job adjusting to some slower pitching, which is something that we struggle with at times,” Rantoul head coach Travis Flesner said.

Sherrick led the Eagles on the mound. She pitched all five innings, giving up five hits, five runs (four earned) and registered four strikeouts.

Sherrick’s strategy was getting the Vikings to hit the ball to her teammates so they can make the out.

“I have the other team hit the ball to our defense -- a ground ball or just getting an easy pop fly,” Sherrick said.

Flesner said the Eagles has improved since its last game against the Vikings back in April.

“The last time we played this team, we lost 10-4,” Flesner said. “We practiced hard in the last 30 days since we played them, and it has made a huge difference. It’s not very often that we lose to Danville. We had to bounce back.”

Wednesday’s game was the sixth time the Eagles won by the 10-run rule.

“You always want do it that way,” Flesner said. “You want to kind of make the game shorter and know that you are playing better all the way through the end. So it definitely feels good not to just squeak out a win and actually win with passion.”

Flesner said he was content with how Sherrick was able to focus and recover after giving up four runs in the first.

“We bounced right back just like we did against Centennial,” Flesner said. “Sherrick had a couple of pitches got away from her, and they had some good hitters there. She settled down and got quite a few pop ups after that.”

The Eagles were aggressive on the bases, stealing four bases.. Mosley had a pair of steals. Sanford and Shields each had one. 

“That’s what we try and do,” Flesner said. “We put the pressure on the defense to make them us throw us out. We make the other team work really hard on defense.”

Contact Ben Theobald at btheobald@rantoulpress.com