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 Friday, Dec. 6, the 340th day of 2013. There are 25 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: The street crossings on Washington and Jefferson are to be taken up immediately and underlaid with sand to raise above the level of the roadway before it freezes. 1888 -- 125 years ago: J.O. Bean, father of W.H. Bean, grocer, was accidentally thrown from his wagon near the Rock Island bridge on the Arsenal and received severe cuts and bruises on his face and body. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Sgt. Birger F. Westergard, of the United States Marine Corps, has arrived in Rock Island to take charge of the local recruiting office. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Five cases of diphtheria at Lincoln School prompt the city physician, Dr. Edward DeSilva, to urge parents to have their children immunized, as he fears epidemic. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Rock Island Arsenal will have its own newspaper with the first edition scheduled to be published Friday, Dec. 13. The paper, which will carry advertising, will be published by Bawden Bros. Inc. of Davenport. 1988 -- 25 years ago: The New Year should ring a better Quad-Cities economy, according to a survey of people in business made by First National Bank of Moline. "Based on our survey, we see a bright outlook for 1989," said Richard M. Bishop, the bank's president.