It wasn’t as if Coal City pitcher Emily Aichele was overpowering on Wednesday night in a non-conference matchup with the Morris Redskins. She only had three strikeouts on the day but she had her best control and pitched to contact on her way to shutting out the Redskins 4-0 on the road.
The win improved the Coalers to 15-6 on the season while the loss dropped the Redskins to 5-15.
After a season’s worth of chilly and cold, Mother Nature bestowed a perfect softball day on the visiting Coalers and the hosting Redskins. After trading zeros in the first inning, the Coalers were able to strike first on an RBI sacrifice fly by designated player Hannah Boresi.
It was a bang-bang play at the plate, but the home umpire ultimately ruled Gabby Bonic safe to give Coal City the 1-0 lead. It would be the only run Coal City would wind up needing as Aichele cruised through the Morris lineup.
“She had great control today,” Coal City head coach Stephanie Harmon said. “That’s what she’s been working on—keeping the ball low. That’s exactly what she did today.”
Aichele gave up singles in the first and second innings but solid defense by the Coalers’ defense allowed her to get out of the first two innings facing the minimum. A 4-3 double play ended the Redskins first while a 1-6-3 double play ended the second.
In the third inning, Coal City was able to add a little insurance when No. 2 hitter Mady Bunton thrashed a two-run double into left field scoring Aichele and leadoff hitter Madison Giordano.
The lined shot helped Bunton break out of a funk at the plate.
“She’s been struggling offensively a lot, so today was a big day for her,” Harmon said. “I’m really hoping this leads into a better season and better games for her.”
Meanwhile, Aichele continued to mow down Redskins. She retired the side in order in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, inevitably retiring 14 in a row at one point in the game.
Back at the plate, Bunton was able to tack on one more insurance run for Coal City in the fifth. After hitting another rocket off the wall just a couple feet to the left of the left field foul pole, she took the ninth pitch of her at-bat and flipped an RBI single into left.
“It’s really nice to come up with a hit in a long at-bat because the pressure is on, especially after you foul off multiple pitches. I knew that I just had to hit it and score the run,” Bunton said.
Bunton would finish her day 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
Trailing 4-0 heading into their half of the seventh, Morris was able to mount one final charge in the game. No. 2 hitter Lauren Severson was able to draw a one out walk and pitcher Erica Gualandi hit a two-out single to put runners at first and third and bring the tying run into the on deck circle.
However, Morris’ night would end when Maddy Feeney grounded back to the pitcher to end the game. Gualandi would go on to take the loss after pitching a complete game and giving up four runs on seven hits while striking out two.
“Yesterday she had a rough day and today she was a little better, but she still wasn’t quite hitting her spots,” Morris head coach Jen Lowery said of Gualandi’s performance. “I don’t know if it’s because she’s throwing game-after-game-after-game and she’s getting tired, but she’s just not hitting her spots right now.”