MT. VERNON – While Mt. Vernon has another week of regular-season games to go before hitting the postseason, the Waltonville/Sesser-Valier Spartans will enter postseason play this week.
First, the two teams met on the diamond Saturday with the Lady Spartans scoring five unanswered runs in a 6-1 victory over the Lady Rams at Cusumano Sports Complex.
WSV enters regional action Tuesday with a 27-3 record. The Spartans have lost to Class 3A Herrin and Waterloo and Class 1A Woodlawn.
“It’s been fun, but it’s not over and they know that,” said SVW coach John Kiselewski. “We goof around and have fun … but when it’s time to go, hopefully, they’ll know it’s time to go.”
The Spartans opened the scoring with an unearned run in the top of the first inning against Lady Rams pitcher Addy Sargent.
Taylor Witges doubled and scored on a throwing error that allowed Gretchen Witter to reach base. The Spartans were held in check the rest of the inning.
Mt. Vernon responded quickly. Ashton McPherson singled and moved to second on a passed ball. After a ground out, McPherson scored on Brooklynn Kelley’s single to tie the game.
The Lady Rams had three hits in the first but managed just the run. Then in the second, Mt. Vernon had three more hits to bring their total to six in the game, could not tack on as the game remained tied, 1-1, heading to the top of the third inning.
“We had our chances early,” said Mt. Vernon coach Bill England. “We’re still young and going through those growing pains. We’re going to mature. We had our chances in the game but just missed some opportunities.”
The game stayed tied until the fourth when the Spartans took the lead. Olivia Massie led off with a single. She moved to second on a bunt single from Jaylin Haley and scored on a single from Jessie Eubanks.
It wouldn’t be the only hit to drive in runs for Eubanks. In the seventh, after the Spartans tacked on an insurance run in the sixth to go ahead, 3-1, WSV put the game out of reach with three runs in the seventh.
Massie and Rylee Breeze each singled. Massie took third on Breeze’s hit, while she eventually moved to second on a wild pitch
That setup Eubanks to deliver a double into center field to score both runners. She moved to second on an infield hit from Mikayla Robbers before scoring on a throwing error to make it 6-1.
“We had a chat in the third and fourth inning and finally got the bats going a little bit,” said Kiselewski. “Eubanks had a big hit. We were telling them to get on top of the ball. She [Sargent] was throwing a lot of ball up to us. We were chasing it and we finally got on top of it and that’s what we’ve preached the last two weeks, for sure.”
Eubanks was 2-for-4 with three RBI. Witges finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI while Massie was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Robbers was 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Witter surrendered nine hits one earned run and walked one and struck out four.
“Witter came out and pitched well,” said Kiselewski. “She pitched well with runners on base. She tightened it up when she had to with people on base and got us out of some jams.”
For Mt. Vernon, McPhersonwas 2-for-4 with a run scored. Kelley finished 2-for-4 with a RBI and MacKenzie McIlrath was 2-for-3.
While the Spartans enter the regional as the sub-sectional No. 1 seed and will await the winner of Monday’s play-in game, Mt. Vernon has a busy week the close the regular season.
The Lady Rams will travel to Belleville East Monday then host Effingham for senior night on Tuesday before going to O’Fallon on Wednesday, then a doubleheader and Cahokia before closing the regular season at Salem Friday against the team the Lady Rams will face to open the Class 3A Mt. Vernon regional.