GALESBURG -- Courtney Taube was so close to softball perfection, both on the mound and at the plate, Saturday afternoon that she could taste it. |
And yet, close enough was good enough to close out the Western Big 6 Conference portion of the Moline senior's high-school softball career.
Moved from the No. 9 spot to the leadoff spot in the Maroons' lineup, Taube went 7-for-8 at the plate in a doubleheader sweep Ď 16-0 and 5-0 Ď of Galesburg. On the mound, only an infield error and a last-inning relief pitcher, kept her from throwing a perfect game.
``This will be something big to remember, especially with this being my senior year,'' Taube said of her last WB6 doubleheader, and one that clinched a fifth-straight Big 6 title for the 17-4 Maroons, who finished 9-1 in the conference.
Taube not only doubled her number of WB6 hits this season to 14 Ď and thus left her conference average at .609 Ď but she also scored three runs, stole three bases and drove in a run.
``There really isn't that much of a difference between batting ninth and batting first,'' Taube said. ``It just means you get to start off the game with an at-bat instead of an inning or two later. You still have the same pressure and the same job to get done.''
Noted Moline coach Mark Gerlach, ``That's a great attitude to have. She did a great job in the leadoff spot. She's on fire.''
Taube was moved there because of an injury to Rolanda Jacobs, Moline's shortstop/second baseman who usually bats second. Meg Schroeder, who usually bats first, followed Taube and went 4-for-9 for the day with a double and triple.
``Rolo has been having trouble with her shoulder all season, and the doctor told her to finally take a few days off,'' said Gerlach. The coach is hoping Jacobs will return to action this week.
Taube also was stellar on the mound in the opener. She retired 10 straight Streaks before the infield error, and then set down seven more in a row. Still, Gerlach brought in junior Molly Mitchell to set down three in a row in the seventh.
``I kind of thought I might be coming out'' because Moline complete games are quite rare, Taube knows. ``I think Coach likes to give all of the girls a chance. Plus, it's everyone's job to complete a game as a team.''
Ironically, Gerlach said he ``thought long and hard'' about keeping Taube in the game for the no-hitter, though, the perfect game was gone. ``Then I thought, I've done it before, so I don't know why this would be different. If it was a close game, I would have taken her out regardless. In this case, though, I had to think about it.''
Moline put the game away with nine seventh-inning runs. It included back-to-back home runs by Erica Aten and Susie Horn. Aten had a double to go with the homer in the 12-batter inning.
In the second game, Schroeder allowed just two singles to move her record to 6-1.