Alleman softball coach Mike Ebner isn't ready to proclaim his Pioneers regional-ready, but he is quite close.
"We want to keep building. We're going in the right direction," Ebner said after Alleman's sweep of Galesburg, 10-0 and 14-1 in the Western Big 6 Conference's final week. "I just don't know if 'ready' is the right word right now."
With a week left in the regular season – games Monday vs. Geneseo, Tuesday vs. United Township and a Saturday tripleheader in Rockford – that right direction means doing a lot of things right.
Alleman (19-8, 6-4 WB6) became the only team in the conference to defeat the Silver Streaks (6-24, 0-10 WB6) twice with 10-run rules, the first game in six innings and the second in five.
Offensively, not only did the Pioneers score 24 runs on 25 hits, but they also left 20 runners on base in the doubleheader, including 13 in the first game.
"We have been hitting the ball really well," noted Ebner. "We are playing the way we want to at this time of year."
Alleman's top 5 in the lineup combined to go 20-for-36, with 17 RBIs.
In Game 1, No. 2 hitter Anna Wetherell and cleanup hitter Maddie McGuire each had four hits, with McGuire driving in three runs. In Game 2, leadoff hitter Chasney Jenkins had five RBIs and No. 3 hitter Isabel Anderson had three hits and drove in four. No. 5 hitter Avery Nelson had two hits in each game.
And then there's the No. 9 hitter, Lexy VandeMoortel. She drove in four runs in the opener with a pair of hits, and scored five runs on the day. With a triple, she finished in the top 3 in the WB6 in extra-base hits.
"She could probably be batting No. 3 in the lineup for everyone else in the conference, but No. 9 just works for us," Ebner said of VandeMoortel. "She seems to get that big hit every time."
VandeMoortel finished WB6 play with 10 RBIs (top 6) and 14 runs scored (top 4).
On the mound, Nelson continued her season of effectiveness, pitching a pair of three-hitters to move her pitching record to 13-2.
Actually, Nelson needed to be on top of her game in the opener. The Pioneers led just 2-0 in the top of the fifth, when the Streaks just missed tying the score by a couple of inches. With runners on second and third and one out, Bri Brown's liner down the third-base line came up just foul. Nelson then got her on strikes, and escaped the inning on a bases-loaded infield grounder.
The Pioneers got a run in the bottom of the inning and then erupted for seven in the sixth to end the game on the 10-run mercy rule.
"Last year in those types of situations, we didn't make the play we needed," said Ebner. "This year, we are doing that."
Today is Wednesday, May 22, the 142nd day of 2013. There are 223 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Large quantities of ice from LaCrosse and Lake Pepin are beingshipped on ice boats, towed by steamers to St. Louis and points below. 1888 -- 125 years ago: With the Mississippi River at 18 feet above the low water stage,Rock Island is waging a valiant fight to keep the river from flooding the entire city. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Approval has been given by the city commission for paving 45thStreet between 7th and 11th Avenues. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Herndon Wright, of East Moline, has won the discus-throw title, by aheave of more than 140 feet, to set a new high school record at Champaign. 1963 -- 50 years ago: With the Selective Service Law recently extended by Congress forfour more years, Mrs. Hazel Doris reminded young men that they must register withinfive days after attaining their 18th birthday. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Over 500 Quad-Cities area retired volunteers were honoredrecently for their community services at a Retired Senior Volunteer Program luncheonat Palmer Auditorium in Davenport. Guest speaker, William Moffitt, director of productengineering of Deere & Co., spoke about leadership and stressed the importance ofcommunity volunteers.