SENECA – One day after they were held hitless by Coal City pitcher Emily Aichele, Seneca softball’s fortunes took a turn for the worse Tuesday afternoon.
Seneca managed three hits in five innings against Aichele in the finale of the two-game Interstate Eight Conference series between the teams. That was perhaps the only positive for the Irish, as they were routed 10-0 in five innings a day after losing 4-0 to their rival in Coal City.
Coal City (8-10, 5-4) generated hits from eight of the nine spots in its lineup. Its fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth hitters – Aichele, Leah Campos, Mady Bunton and Nicole Borgetti – were particularly effective, going a combined 8 for 8 the first two times through the lineup and 9 for 11 overall.
“It relieves the pressure from the one through five hitters,” Coal City coach Stephanie Harmon said. “Knowing that our bottom of the lineup can get runners on and then our top of the lineup can hit them in, I think it’s huge for the team.”
Seneca pitcher Rachel Sangston (10-6) retired the first four Coalers in order, before they broke out in the bottom of the second, scoring three times. There were two outs in the top of the third before an Abby Olsen solo home run sparked a five-run Coal City outburst. The final two runs scored in the top of the fifth.
Though Aichele, Campos, Borgetti and Carly Pavlis all had two hits for the Coalers. Bunton stood above them all, going 3 for 3 with a double, three RBIs and three runs.
“Yesterday we didn’t do so hot. We were way out in front of the ball,” Bunton said, “So today, we came out. We knew what we were going to see. It was going to be the same pitcher. We just sat back and drove the ball. I felt really good about it, being able to hit those runners in that got on before me.”
To Aichele, her offensive contributions were more notable than her pitching effort, which included no walks and five strikeouts in the first two innings.
“I’ve been struggling hitting lately,” Aichele said, “So now that I’m coming back, going 2 for 3 this game, it’s really boosted up my momentum. I used to be down about hitting and struggling with that, but now that I’m finally getting back to it, it’s a big boost.”
The Seneca (12-10, 3-6) offense consisted of singles from Sangston, Jenni Nugent and Karlie Cade.
“I tip the cap to the Aichele girl. She did a nice job pitching, last night and tonight, against us,” Seneca coach Dan Stecken said. “I thought we’d make some better adjustments at the plate. We talked about trying to take the ball to right field, and we did. We just couldn’t square it up and drive it that way like we usually can.
“Just not our night.”