Cavaliers shutout Litchfield to win regional opener
By Eric Becker
CARLINVILLE (May 17, 2018) – Dark clouds moved in from the west as the game was winding down Monday afternoon at Loveless Park.
Carlinville’s softball team hosted Litchfield in a first-round regional matchup for the Hillsboro Regional.
The season was on the line for both teams, but Carlinville took advantage of scoring chances and Litchfield did not in a 4-0 Cavies victory.
The win propels Carlinville into Tuesday’s regional semifinal against top seeded Hillsboro, one of the three teams to share the South Central Conference regular season title.
Litchfield had baserunners in every inning but the fifth, but stranded six on base, and had two runners thrown out by catcher Emma Griffith trying to advance on stolen bases. CHS’ Paityn Tieman also turned a nifty 4-3 double play in the second inning.
Scoreless in the third, Gabby Lee led off with a double against Alyssa DeSpain, but the senior pitcher, who has started most games on the mound since her freshman year, struck out the next two hitters and caught a line drive back at her hit by Emily Senjan.
Carlinville’s offense mustered only three hits in the game, but managed to manufacture four runs.
With Senjan pitching for Litchfield, Dani Westnedge was hit by a pitch to start the third inning, and Allie Jenkins courtesy ran.
Tieman reached on an error. With one out, DeSpain laced an BI-double to left-center field to plate the first run of the game.
In the top of the fourth, Trish Seipp doubled and Lutrell walked with one out. Runners would advance to second and third, but a pair of DeSpain strikeouts ended that threat.
The Cavaliers then got a second run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Lexi Bates hit a grounder which was mishandled twice for an error. She stole second and advanced to third on a ground out.
Bates would beat a throw home from third base on a Tieman ground ball, making it 2-0 as Tieman got the RBI.
Litchfield had three baserunners in the sixth inning. Senjan singled and was then thrown out trying to steal.
A walk to Mallory Beechler and a two-out single by Lutrell brought up Ashley Heard, who struck out to end another Purple Panthers threat.
The Cavies got insurance in the bottom of the sixth inning. DeSpain walked, and replaced on the bases on a fielder’s choice by Natalie Kaganich.
Jordan Houseman was hit by a pitch, and Griffith then had the big blow of the game, lacing a two-run double to the gap in left-centerfield which doubled Carlinville’s lead to 4-0.
DeSpain struck out the side in the seventh to end the game after issuing a single to Carly Boden to start the inning.
DeSpain finished with 11 strikeouts, walking two and allowing six hits.
At the plate, DeSpain had a single and double with RBI; Tieman had an RBI; Kaganich and Houseman both scored runs; Griffith had a double and two RBIs; and Bates and Jenkins both scored runs.
Lutrell had two hits for Litchfield.
Senjan struck out five and allowed three hits and four runs, two earned, for Litchfield on the mound. The Panthers finish the season at 5-17.
Jersey 5, Carlinville 2
At Jersey, the Cavaliers lost their regular season finale Thursday by a 5-2 score.
CHS finished the regular season at 11-9, 6-3 in the conference loop.
Carlinville took a 1-0 first inning lead on a two-out double by DeSpain, followed by a Cania RBI-single.
Jersey responded with two runs in the first inning. Lauren Rexing and Claire Anderson both drove home runs to give Jersey the lead.
A fourth inning run by the Panthers scored on a wild pitch to push Jersey’s lead to 3-2.
Carlinville came back with a run in the sixth inning. Seal reached on a walk and scored on a Kaganich RBI-single to get the Cavies within a run.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jersey scored two insurance runs with a pair of errors playing a prominent role in those runs.
DeSpain took the loss, striking out three, allowing seven hits and five runs, two earned over six innings.
Tieman had a hit; DeSpain had two doubles, a single and run; Seal scored a run; Cania had a single and RBI; Kaganich a single and RBI; Bates had a double.
Anderson and Erika Storey combined to strike out six and allow seven hits.
Brooke Tuttle had two hits and two runs scored and Chelsea Maag had two hits for the Panthers.