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GIBSON CITY — With a golden opportunity to grab an early season stranglehold on the Heart of Illinois Conference race, the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley varsity softball team couldn’t capitalize in an all-too-familiar area: at the plate.
Playing a Blue Ridge squad that knocked them out of the regionals a year ago and is considered one of the top teams in the HOIC, the Lady Falcons fell 5-3 in eight innings on Monday in Gibson City. GCMS (8-5, 2-1) had the potential go-ahead or winning run on third base with two outs in both the sixth and seventh innings but couldn’t come up with the clutch hit.
Blue Ridge, on the other hand, did come through when Chandler Morrow lined a two-run single off GCMS ace Regan Romshek (6-5) with one out in the top of the eighth inning.
“It just comes down to who’s going to make the play at the right time and who’s going to get the big hit, and right now we’re getting people in scoring position, but we’re not coming through,” GCMS coach Jim Lewis said. “Just any runners in scoring position, we’re not getting it done.”
The Lady Falcons had tied the contest at 3-all in the bottom of the sixth when Courtney Gramley scored on a wild pitch with two outs. But even before the missed chances that soon followed, GCMS had hurt itself. The Lady Falcons had failed to get a runner home from third base with one out in the fourth inning and stranded two runners in scoring position in the fifth.
That’s been too familiar of a refrain, Lewis said, for a team that’s now lost three of its past four games and could’ve taken early control of the HOIC with a win. GCMS already had recently beat Tri-Valley, another HOIC favorite, but now the conference race is “wide open,” Lewis said.
“They’re a good team,” Lewis said of Blue Ridge.
“I liked the way we battled back when we got down. We were down 3-0 and then 3-1, 3-2 and 3-3. We had some good things going. But then again, we had runners in scoring position where we could’ve pushed more runs across.”
GCMS trailed 3-0 after three innings before starting its comeback. The Lady Falcons plated a run in the fourth when Kaiti Bowen doubled and scored on an RBI single by Jackie Freehill. In the fifth, Bowen’s RBI single scored Emily Spangler to cut the deficit to 3-2, but Jessica Hunter grounded out and Freehill popped out with two runners on.
After Gramley’s double and dash home tied it in the sixth, Romshek drove a ball to right field that was run down by the Blue Ridge outfield to preserve the tie. With one out in the seventh, Bowen roped a ball to deep left field that looked like it may have enough to leave the park. But a strong wind that was blowing in knocked it down, and she was stranded in scoring position when Hunter and Freehill were retired by Lady Knights ace Jordan Wheeler, a Parkland recruit.
“The wind’s blowing in. She hit it well. It wasn’t and it wasn’t,” Lewis said when asked if he thought the drive was out. “There’s nothing you can do about that.”
On Saturday, the Lady Falcons dropped two of three games in a tournament at Mahomet-Seymour. Despite two home runs and three RBIs from Romshek, GCMS fell 12-9 to the hosts to start the day. The Lady Falcons then responded with an 11-1 win against Decatur MacArthur. Hunter led the way, allowing just three hits and a run to earn the win and doubling twice and driving in five runs. Romshek added two hits and two RBIs.
In the day’s finale, GCMS fell 9-1 to St. Joe-Ogden, which is undefeated at 13-0 entering this week. Romshek took the loss, allowing six earned runs.
“We just got to bring more energy to our game. We had some pretty good energy at the beginning of the season, but we somehow have kind of lost sight of what we’re doing,” Lewis said of the team’s recent struggles. “We need to get that back.”
GCMS tops Lexington
Last Wednesday, GCMS was an 11-0 winner at Lexington in a run-rule five-inning contest. Hunter was the day’s standout. She threw a four-hit shutout and had three hits and two RBIs at the plate.
On April 3, GCMS earned a 4-2 win against Danville Schlarman in Gibson City. Romshek earned the win, allowing two earned runs and striking out 14 while walking just one.
The Lady Falcons never trailed in the game, scoring once in the first and fourth innings, then adding two in the fifth. The Hilltoppers scored their two runs in the sixth inning.
GCMS continues a busy conference slate over the next week, hosting Flanagan today and then travelling to Deer Creek-Mackinaw on Friday and to LeRoy on Monday.