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Injured finger doesn't stop Morris' Brehm on Senior Day

Morris' Abby Burns is safe at first as the throw pulls Coal City first baseman Alivia Phelps off the base in the Redskins' 3-0 win Wendnesday on Senior Night.
Morris' Abby Burns is safe at first as the throw pulls Coal City first baseman Alivia Phelps off the base in the Redskins' 3-0 win Wendnesday on Senior Night.

MORRIS — in Tuesday's softball game against Sterling, Morris' Janelle Brehm went to make a play on a ball, and the ball jammed the middle finger of her right {throwing} hand, dislocating a finger.

At least, that's how she described it.

Others didn't paint quite so rosy a picture.

"It was sticking straight up in the air," Morris coach Jen Lowery said. "The rest of her finger was flat, but from the last knuckle, it was pointing straight up. I didn't think there was any way she would be playing soon."

Soon turned out to be Wednesday night, as Brehm was in the starting lineup at her accustomed shortstop position against Coal City. A finger, it seems, was not going to let her miss Senior Night.

"I've played with this group of girls my whole life," Brehm said. "I wasn't going to let them be on the field on Senior Night without me."

Unsure about her ability to handle the bat as effectively as she normally does, Lowery dropped Brehm to ninth in the lineup. It worked out well, as she hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to drive in a run during the Redskins' 3-0 win.

"Janelle is a competitor," Lowery said. "She plays with a lot of heart. She's playing volleyball in college, but her competitive nature and spirit wouldn't let her sit out a softball game."

Brehm's RBI came after sophomore Olivia Schultz had what was probably the at-bat of the game.

With the bases loaded and one out in a scoreless game, Schultz fell behind in the count, 0-2. She didn't give in and swing at any bad pitches and fouled off a couple that were tough to handle until she worked a walk to score Ryan Friend with the game's first run. Friend had led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and went to second when Melissa Benson bunted and reached on an error. A sacrifice bunt by Rachel Trader moved runners to second and third and a walk by Gigi Corban loaded the bases for Schultz.

"That was huge," Lowery said about Schultz's walk. "To fall behind 0-2 and come back to get a walk and push a run across in a game where runs aren't easy to come by was a big at-bat."

Staked to a 2-0 lead, Corban, who had worked out of jams in the third and fourth innings, cruised through the rest of the game, facing just 10 batters in the final three innings.

"Gigi threw well," Lowery said. "Her changeup was working well for the most part all game and our defense played well. This was a good win."

Morris (22-7) added a run in the bottom of the sixth. Corban led off with a double, her second hit of the game. A grounder to short by Schultz allowed courtesy runner Bayli Doss to reach third and Brehm reached on a bunt single and then stole second. Jasmine Cook then grounded to second, scoring Doss for a 3-0 lead.

Coal City's Leslie Youskevtch nearly matched Corban pitch for pitch, and the Coalers (12-13) were twice a hit away from big inning. Coal City got its first two runners on in the third on a walk to Alivia Phelps and Kaitlyn Daigger reaching on an error. After a bunt was popped back to the pitcher, Brehm fielded a grounder and forced Phelps at third before Corban induced a popup to first to end the inning.

In the fourth, Leah Campos led off with a double and Abbey Spesia followed with a double off the left-field fence. The ball was hit so hard that it caromed right back to left fielder Cook, who turned and fired into the infield, holding Campos at third. Corban then retired the next three Coalers on a strikeout, a popup to second and another strikeout.

"We put the ball in play, but they made the plays when they had to," Coal City coach Stephanie Harmon said. "If we got that one key hit, things might have been different, but our girls are coming away from this game knowing we can play with Morris, which is huge with regionals coming up.

"It's nice to play a game against a team like them to see where we are at, and we feel petty good about it."

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