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 Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.