JACKSONVILLE — United Township senior Brooke Prior wasn't used to her pink-and-black sneakers yet. She didn't have much time to adjust to them before she stepped into the pitching circle against Quincy softball team Thursday at Lenz Field.
The Panthers didn't bring sneakers to play on the artificial turf field and had an assistant coach rush out to Walmart to buy them.
"They aren't going to last very long," Prior said. "There's already a hole in there from my pitching toe."
Once Prior settled in, her resolve never showed any signs of breaking. She picked up a win in game 1 and belted a three-run home run in Game 2 to help the Panthers sweep a Western Big 6 doubleheader. The Panthers won the first game 13-1 in five innings and 9-2 in six innings in a game that was called by darkness.
"It was really difficult, knowing there was a lot of tar, turf on the pitching mound," Prior said. "So every time you pushed off it, your foot would slip. When I pitched my first riseball, my foot slipped."
In a season with constant schedule changes and rain delays, United Township coach John Alonzo had to laugh at the situation.
"That was interesting," Alonzo said. "We were a little panicky there. We didn't know we were supposed to bring tennis shoes. Its been such a strange year already, so why not? This is a first for us and that was just a little bump. We told the kids to focus on the game and have fun with it."
In the first game, the Panthers (7-2, 6-0 WB6) jumped to a 6-0 lead in the first inning. Prior walked to open the game and was driven in on an RBI double by Natalie Brown. Courtney Markin then smacked a two-run home run to left field. Megan Ballegeer, Sydnee Valleso and Prior also collected RBIs in the inning.
The outburst chased the QHS starting pitcher Christine Schlegl from the game. The Blue Devils (3-9, 1-5) could never find a groove on offense. Prior struck out nine and allowed two hits.
"We've faced her four years now and I'm glad to see her go," QHS coach Eric Hoke joked. "She's a good pitcher and a good kid."
In the nightcap, United Township showed its power and hit three home runs to earn the win. Mackenzie Gustafson, Hailey Lenth and Prior hit home runs. Heather Johnson picked up the win in the circle, throwing all six innings and striking out four.
Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.