Girls Varsity Softball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
PREP SOFTBALL: ‘Wet and cold are never fun,’ but Redbirds off to 3-2 start
Louie Korac For The Telegraph Published 9:54 am, Friday, March 30, 2018
Alton’s Miranda Hudson, shown hitting a double in a game against Bunker Hill last season at Alton High in Godfrey, returns for her senior season after hitting .343 with 36 RBIs and six home runs as a junior. Photo: Billy Hurst / For The Telegraph
Billy Hurst / For The Telegraph
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Alton’s Miranda Hudson, shown hitting a double in a game against Bunker Hill last season at Alton High in Godfrey, returns for her senior season after hitting .343 with 36 RBIs and six home runs as a junior.
GODFREY — Dan Carter and the Alton Redbirds are in the same boat as every team in the Metro-East area.
They just want to play games but can’t because because of the same excuse as everyone else: Mother Nature.
Rain, rain and more rain continues to wreck havoc on fields all over the area, at times relentlessly while teams stand by helplessly wondering when they can resume their respective schedules.
The Redbirds have been able to play five games, and were 3-2 before attempting to take the field in their Southwestern Conference opener against East St. Louis on Friday, and it will have been eight days since the Redbirds last played a game.
“We were lucky enough to get a couple games in but it was cold, which wasn’t fun,” said Carter, in his 19th season guiding the softball program and began the season with a 386-248 career record. “Now we’re fighting the wet (stuff). Wet and cold are never fun. We’re behind the eight ball a little bit, but it’s that time of year. Not that we’re not used to this, but it’s been pretty bad this year.”
Alton poses a fairly young lineup that only boasts three seniors (outfielder Alexis Fisher, catcher Miranda Hudson and third baseman Rachel McCoy), and the Redbirds have some work to do to replace shortstop Savannah Fisher, who hit .444 last season with a team-leading four triples, along with Tomi Dublo (.346 with a team-leading five home runs), but when you have the reigning Telegraph Large School Player of the Year in junior Tami Wong, who has made the transition from center field to shortstop this season, it’s a good place to start.
“We’re young, we’re very young, but we’ve got a couple quality seniors back,” Carter said. “When you can put Miranda Hudson behind the plate to catch our games, that’s a huge plus. And we’ve got Rachel McCoy playing third for us, great leadership there. Alexis Fisher came off the bench last year. We’re hoping she can get a little more outfield time as we go along here.”
Wong hit a school-record .509 last season and led the team in runs (45), hits (58), doubles (17), was tied in singles with Fisher (38) and second in RBI (behind Hudson’s 36) with 35.
“When you have an all-state player like that coming back, we moved her in from the outfield to shortstop,” Carter said. “She’s played there and played third for her summer team, so it’s not foreign ground to her. … She’s a tremendous athlete, knows the game very well and can do a lot of things for us.”
Pitching-wise, the Redbirds will rely on sophomore Abby Scyoc (16-10 last season with in 27 games, of which 20 she started, with a 3.30 ERA, 53 walks and 83 strikeouts in 172 innings). Along with freshman Alyson Haegele, it will be valuable experience gained for the two young pitchers.
“Logged a lot of innings for us last year,” Carter said of Scyoc. “Obviously you’ve got to say Abby’s our No. 1 with the experience that she gave us last year, but the fact is there’s somebody else out there that we can go to.”
Sophomore Ashlyn Betz (.284, three home runs, seven doubles and 22 RBI) will play first base once again and freshman Lynna Fischer, who will play second base, is off to a .471 start in five games.
Freshman Abby Sullivan, sophomore Rachel Rathgeb and freshman Darcie Flanigan have been implemented in the outfield. “Even though we’re young in some of those positions, we’ve got some experience back,” Carter said.
The Redbirds have averaged 10-plus runs per game in their first five games; they just need to shore up some things on the mound and defensively. Alton’s allowed an average of 8.6 runs per game.
“We knew we’d hit the ball again this year, especially early,” said Carter, whose team went 22-12 a season ago. “There’s been a lot of water, but one thing you can do is get in the cage and hit. I think everybody right now is hitting better than the defense is. Our defense was pretty lacking in the first couple games. I don’t want to make excuses because I don’t believe in excuses, but we when it’s blowing and cold, it’s tough. I keep telling my girls we’ve got work on that and bear down. I think that’ll pay off for us down the road that kind of experience early in the season.”
Alton will once again be locked in the ultra-tough SWC with the front-runners like Edwardsville, Belleville East and Belleville West leading the way, and the Redbirds will be there tooth-and-nail with the likes of O’Fallon and Collinsville with the Flyerettes bringing up the rear.
“We play 14 games within the conference, and that tests you as it is,” Carter said. “This might be one of the tougher years. I think everybody’s got pitching back from last year. … You’ve got to say Edwardsville’s at the top every year until somebody knocks them off. Both the Belleville teams are going to be very strong. Then you talk us, Collinsville, O’Fallon, we were all middle of the pack last year. All three of those teams can make a run and push those other teams.”
Alton has already played games with Centralia (twice), East Alton-Wood River, Bunker Hill and Roxana in a nonconference schedule, with games remaining against Carrollton, Quincy, Highland, Civic Memorial, Southwestern, Jersey (DH), Calhoun, Cahokia, Metro-East Lutheran, Brussels, EA-WR again, Waterloo, Trenton Wesclin and Triad.
“We’re playing all the (Class) 3A schools around here, we tried calling the Springfield schools to get them on the schedule; they won’t play us or they don’t have room,” Carter said. “Weekend nights or weekday nights, you can only travel so far so many times. We try to schedule the teams in this area and we hope that our schedule tests us and has us ready when the playoffs come around. Most of those are going to be great games against some great teams.
“We very rarely set goals around here. Our goal is to be better every day. Like I tell the girls, ‘If you’re better today than you were yesterday, more times than not, you’re going to win a lot of ballgames.’ We’ve been very lucky here the last couple years to get to the 20-win plateau (five straight and 11 times in Carter’s previous 18 seasons). Obviously you’d like to get there again, you’d like to hit 25, you’d like to hit 30. I’m not saying those goals aren’t there, but every day you get better, you never know.”