RANTOUL — Lexi Sherrick got it done in both the batter’s box and on the mound for the Rantoul Eagles softball team last Wednesday against the Prairie Central Hawks.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles (8-15) were in the lead 5-4 and the bases were loaded with two outs when Dherrick Sherrick drove a line drive to center for a grand slam.
“I took the first pitch, and then the next one I just timed it good,” Sherrick said. “I just saw it. I kind of felt it with my swing.”
Sherrick went 3 for 4. Her home run was her sixth of the season and gave the Eagles a 9-4 lead, which ended up being the final score. Sherrick also hit an RBI single.
“She’s a really good hitter. That’s why she hits leadoff for us; she is on base a lot,” coach Travis Flesner said. “She had the opportunity with the bases loaded, and she put it over the fence.”
The Eagles fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but the team responded in the same inning. Leading of the bottom of the first, Sherrick hit a single. Jada Mosley walked and Jenna Sanford singled to load the bases for Madisyn Walton. Walton walked to score Sherrick. The next batter, Bella Shields, hit a double, scoring two runs to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
The Hawks responded in the second with a single and a double to put runners on second and third. The runner on third scored after a passed ball, and the runner on second advanced to third. The runner on third scored after the next batter grounded out with one out. The game was tied 3-3.
In the bottom of the fourth, Sanford led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second after Madisyn Walton grounded out. Jerzie Grob’s single drove in Sanford for a 4-3 Eagles lead.
The Hawks got a home run in the fifth to tie the game again at 4-4. That would be the last run for the Hawks as well as the last hit. Sherrick had a one-two-three out innings in both the sixth and seventh.
Kianna Berlatsky-Gorrell went 2 for 4 and hit an RBI single in the fifth to give the Eagles a 5-4 lead.
“We played really well today,” Flesner said. “We limited our mistakes, our errors and capitalized on having base runners on. (We had (several clutch hits with runners in scoring position.”
Eagles starter Sherrick pitched all seven innings. She allowed four runs (three earned), five hits and struck out three.
Sherrick said she had to make some changes after the Hawks were scoring runs early in the game.
“I was kind of high up in the zone early on in the game, so I had to adjust,” Sherrick said. “Once I did that I think we kind of shut them down defensively.”
Flesner said he was content with how Sherrick responded and changed her pitching strategy.
“She was in control pretty much for the whole game,” Flesner said. “She maybe made one or two mistakes that they took advantage of and put some runs on the board. If we give up four runs, then I feel like we have a good chance to win those type of games.”
The Eagles bounced back with their win on Wednesday after getting shut out in its previous game against the Pontiac Indians 12-0.
“We needed a win to get our confidence back, and I think that really helped,” Sherrick said. “We could have made some other plays, but overall we did well.”
The win ended a 10-game losing streak for the Eagles and gave the team a 2-7 record in the Illini Prairie Conference.
“Each game we are learning and getting a little bit better,” Flesner said. “That’s our goal is to get better each day. Everything kind of came together today.”
The Eagles play their last game of the regular season at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at home against Danville. The Eagles will play Urbana in the regional at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Wabash Park.
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