Winning five of six games in recent days, the East Central College softball Falcons have equalized their record on the season at 5-5.
And, that record could stand for a bit after heavy snow blanketed the region Sunday and Monday. Between 8-10 inches of snow was reported to have fallen over most of Franklin County.
Having games called off is nothing new. The six games played Thursday, Friday and Saturday came after three consecutive rainouts. In total, One tournament and nine regular-season doubleheaders have been called off through Monday.
In the wins, there were two common themes. Sophomore Julie Scheer (New Haven) was the winning pitcher for all of the games. She earned two of those victories in relief.
“The ‘real’ Julie Scheer is starting to emerge in the pitcher’s circle, allowing only three runs (two earned) in 25 innings,” ECC Head Coach Brad Wallach said.
And the Falcons hit nine home runs in the wins over Cottey College and Mineral Area College.
“Against Cottey and Mineral Area, we had big fifth innings, getting three home runs in each,” Wallach said. “In over 25 years of coaching softball, I’ve never had a team hit three home runs in one inning and it happened two days in a row. But I can assure you, it’s not because we’re trying to. It’s because we preach patience and pitch selection and we work at being able to take the outside pitch to the opposite field. That’s what separates good hitters from the rest. Everybody can pull the ball.”
Wallach said things are improving.
“We’re starting to get some traction, especially in the Cottey and Mineral Area doubleheaders,” Wallach said. “We won the first games in dominating fashion (8-0 and 7-0) and came from behind (5-2 and 8-3) to win the second games.”
The Falcons opened with a home doubleheader Thursday against Missouri Valley JV. The Falcons won the first game, 4-3, but lost the second, 11-5.
On Friday, ECC swept Cottey College at home. ECC won the first game, 8-0 and finished the sweep with a 6-5 victory.
On Saturday, the Falcons earned a huge sweep against Mineral Area College. The contests were huge not only for the Midwest Community College Athletic Conference standings, but also for NJCAA Division II Region 16 rankings.
“Those come-from-behind wins were the result of composure, not panicking, and patience at the plate to get good pitches,” Wallach stated.
There still is room for improvement.
“Defensively, we’re still making too many errors and making things harder than it has to be but it’s getting better,” Wallach said. “I think part of that might be people putting too much pressure on themselves. Relaxing a little bit would probably help.”
ECC was scheduled to take on Jefferson College Tuesday in Hillsboro at 2 p.m. The Falcons are supposed to travel to Lewis & Clark in Godfrey, Ill., Wednesday at 2 p.m. On Thursday, the team’s supposed to play at John Wood in Quincy, Ill.
Games are set for home against the Lindenwood-Belleville JV team Friday and John Wood next Monday. Of course, all are in doubt with the heavy snow which has blanketed the area.
The Falcons posted their first win of the season in the opener against Missouri Valley.
“We didn’t play exceptionally well or poorly; we just kind of got by,” Wallach said.
In the first game, the Falcons scored three runs in the bottom of the third. Each team scored once in the fourth. Missouri Valley scored twice in the sixth, but ECC held on for the win.
Scheer was the winning pitcher. She allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits and one walk. She struck out seven batters.
Sophomore Kris Stevens (Union) posted two hits, both doubles. She also scored and drove in a run.
Sophomores Grace Fritz (Borgia), Chloe Galati (Borgia), Scheer and freshman Haley Zenner (Dubuque, Iowa) recorded one hit each. Galati’s hit was a home run while Zenner doubled.
“Chloe Galati’s two run homer in the third was big,” Wallach said.
Other runs came from freshman Michelle Bryant (Crocker), Galati and Zenner. Galati drove in two while freshman Abby Job (Warrenton) also drove in a run.
Freshman Alex Adelsberger (Timberland), Bryant, Job and Zenner walked.
In the second game, the visitors scored once in the top of the first. ECC tied it in the second, but Missouri Valley added a run in the third.
Missouri Valley scored once in the fifth, but the Falcons tied it with two in the bottom of the frame.
In the sixth inning, the Falcons allowed five runs. Missouri Valley added three more in the seventh. The Falcons scored twice in the bottom of the seventh.
ECC struggled defensively, making seven errors in the game.
“Defensively, we’re making this a whole lot harder than it has to be,” Wallach said. “We’re making way too many errors, which in turn puts more pressure on our hitters and our pitchers. All of a sudden, individuals feel like they have to do too much to make up for it, which compounds our problems. We’re better than this.”
Freshman Chelsea Bax (Fatima) started and went 5.2 innings. She allowed eight runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks. She struck out five Vikings.
Zenner relieved and finished out the game, throwing 1.1 innings. She gave up three runs (one earned) on one hit, two walks and one hit batter. She struck out one.
Job led the way offensively with three hits, including a double. She was hit by a pitch, scored twice and drove in two runs.
Sophomores Ashley Brooks (Centralia) and Amber Odom (Linn) each had two hits. Brooks drove in two runs and Odom added a stolen base.
Freshmen Megan Heimbaugh (Rolla) and Brittany Miller (Lindbergh) and sophomores Stevens and Sara Wade (Union) recorded one hit each.
Heimbaugh scored and Miller drove in a run. Stevens scored twice and stole a base. Wade also walked.
The Falcons hosted Cottey College Friday, earning their first winning sweep of the season.
In the opener, the Falcons scored single runs in the first and second innings. ECC added three runs in the third and three in the fourth. When Cottey failed to score in the fifth, the game ended early on the mercy rule.
Scheer tossed a two-hitter, also allowing a walk.
Offensively, the Falcons received three home runs with Galati, Stevens and Zenner hitting the ball over the fence. Heimbaugh doubled.
Brooks, Fritz, Galati, Heimbaugh, Stevens and Zenner each had one hit.
Zenner scored three runs while Brooks, Fritz, Galati, Job and Stevens also scored.
Heimbaugh drove in two runs. Bryant, Galati, Scheer, Stevens and Zenner drove in one run apiece.
Brooks and Zenner each walked twice. Bryant walked once. Bryant and Scheer contributed sacrifices.
Stevens stole two bases. Fritz and Job each stole one base.
In the second game, Cottey scored once in the top of the first. Each team scored once in the second. Cottey then added a run in the third.
The Falcons cut another run off the lead in the fourth, but Cottey added two runs in the fifth.
The Falcons took the lead for the first time with four runs in the bottom of the fifth and that’s how it ended.
Bax started and went 4.2 innings. She allowed five runs (two earned) on nine hits. She struck out six.
Scheer earned the win, throwing the final 2.1 innings while walking two and striking out five.
Zenner doubled for East Central’s only extra-base hit. Bryant, Miller, Odom and Scheer also contributed one hit each.
Scheer scored twice. Galati, Odom, Stevens and Zenner scored one time apiece.
Odom and Zenner drove in two runs each. Bryant had one RBI.
Fritz, Galati and Zenner each walked twice. Job, Miller and Scheer walked once. Fritz and Odom added sacrifices.
The first game between the two NJCAA Division II Region 16 rivals was scoreless through four innings. Mineral Area was blanked in the top of the fifth and the Falcons exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the inning. That was all the scoring for the game.
In the fifth inning, Job, Stevens and Zenner homered.
The runs allowed Scheer to post a shutout. She allowed three hits and two walks while striking out eight Cardinals.
Offensively, the Falcons added four doubles with Scheer getting two of them. Fritz and Galati also doubled.
Galati and Scheer had two hits each. Bryant, Fritz, Job, Stevens and Zenner posted one hit apiece.
Bryant, Fritz, Galati, Job, Scheer, Stevens and Zenner each scored once. Job and Zenner drove in two runs apiece. Fritz, Scheer and Stevens posted one RBI apiece. Galati also walked.
In the second game, the Falcons scored twice in the bottom of the first. Mineral Area College responded with one run in the second and three in the third. The Falcons added a run in the bottom of the third.
Mineral Area scored once in the fourth, but the Falcons exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the fifth and that’s all it took to earn the win.
Bax pitched 3.2 innings while allowing eight runs (four earned) on six hits and two walks. She struck out five.
Scheer picked up the win in relief, throwing 3.1 innings while allowing three hits and one walk. She hit two batters and struck out two.
Each team hit three home runs in the game. Stevens belted two for the Falcons while Fritz also homered.
Fritz, Galati, Job and Stevens each had two hits. Bryant, Scheer and Zenner posted one hit apiece.
Fritz and Stevens each scored three runs. Bryant, Galati, Job, Miller and Scheer scored once.
Fritz and Stevens drove in three runs each. Galati drove in two and Scheer had one RBI.
Miller walked and Stevens was hit by a pitch.