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 Tuesday, March 11, the 70th day of 2014. There are 295 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Much damage is being done by hogs that are running at large about town. The marshal will take them up and sell them if their owners do not contain them. 1889 -- 125 years ago: George Newberry, Daniel Strecker, Al Webb and James Dixon returned from a voyage down the Mississippi River as far as Memphis, Tenn., on a flat. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Augustana College was put out of the running for the state collegiate basketball title when defeated by Millikin. The Viking lineup included Sten, Samuelson and Swanbeck, forwards, and Holtgren, Johnson and Berg, guards. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The coronation of Pope Pius XII and preliminary ceremonies were broadcast by WHBF on the Mutual Radio Network. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Reactivation of a portion of the J.I. Case Co, plant in Rock Island as a supplier for component parts for the firm's manufacturing centers at Racine, Wis., or Burlington, Iowa, is under consideration. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Downtown Moline business owners will have a chance to help shape the city's future through a survey being done by the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission.