April 17, 2016

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE - Sophomore Katrina Whitley and freshman Grace Vaughn figured prominently in a 9-4 come-from-behind second-game victory for the John A. Logan College softball team Sunday against Southeastern Illinois. 

Their heroics ensured a split of the doubleheader. The visiting Falcons won the opener, 6-3.

Whitley, a catcher/outfielder from Du Quoin, delivered a two-run double highlighting  a seven-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth inning that erased a 4-2 deficit. 

Vaughn, a graduate of Pope County High School, stepped into the pitcher's circle in the fourth inning in place of the injured Jennifer Bailey and tossed four scoreless innings to earn her first collegiate win.

With the split, the Volunteers move to 18-10 in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference and 28-14 overall.

Logan jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Jordyn Smith led off with a single. A passed ball moved her to second and Kiley Pelker doubled to right to drive Smith home. Pelker advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Kelsey Rogers' sacrifice fly.

Southeastern scored one run in the second and three more in the third to take a 4-2 lead. Quertermous and Krumrey drove in one run each for the Falcons, while Reed drove in two.

In the fifth inning, however, the Vols' bats came alive off Laswell, SIC's starting pitcher. 

Rogers led off with a towering homer to cut the deficit to one at 4-3. 

Vaughn singled. She advanced to second on a wild pitch. One out later, Brooke Arnold singled, advancing Vaughn to third. 

Whitley then delivered what proved to be the game-winning hit - a double down the left field line, scoring both Vaughn and Arnold.

"I got a ball down in the zone, which is my favorite pitch to hit," Whitley said. "Fortunately, I was able to drive it over the left fielder's head. It felt great off the bat."

Whitley said she was even more excited for Vaughn's achievements.

"I'm super proud of Gracie," she said. "We really needed that from her today after Jen went down. Her change up was wicked good. I'm glad she got the win. And we really needed it as a team after losing the first game."

The Vols would tack on runs. 

Sydnee Rushing singled home Whitley and took second on the throw home. Smith followed with an RBI single and also took second on the throw home. Pelker followed suit as did Rogers for an insurmountable 9-4 lead.

Vaughn allowed only one baserunner in her four innings of work. She struck out two and walked none.

"That feels really good," Vaughn said. "My change up was working well for me today, so I just worked my game around that. I was getting a lot of first-pitch strikes."

Vaughn said the win was even more meaningful to her because of her previous struggles in the circle.

"I was able to redeem myself a little bit today," she said. "I have been working hard with my dad to get things turned around. I think the main thing is that I loosened up a little and quit worrying about making mistakes."

Vols head coach Angie Jilek was pleased with the results.

"The kids were really happy for Gracie, too. They know how hard she has worked. Today, she threw the ball the way we envisioned she could be throwing for us. With Jen out and Nicole (Short) a little tired, we are probably going to need Gracie here down the stretch."

Jilek was also pleased that the offense finally broke through in the nightcap.

"We had a lot of timely hits in that fifth inning," she said. "Kelsey got us started with the home run and Katrina had the game-winner. I know we've split a lot of games of late, but I just think we're tired. When you only get one day off in a week and your depth has been cut so much due to injuries...that's a lot of softball."

Statistically speaking, Whitley paced the offense with three hits in four at bats. Smith, Pelker, and Rogers contributed two each.

In Game 1, the Vols fell behind 5-0 and managed to pull within two at 5-3 after six, but could get no closer and lost 6-3. 

Short was pitcher of record. She worked all seven innings, allowed six runs on eight hits, struck out six, and walked three. She also hit one batter.

Pelker went 3-4 to lead the offense. Lauren Talton added two hits. Rushing singled and added an RBI groundout. Arnold added an RBI single.

Logan is off Monday, but will then travel to Ina Tuesday to play a doubleheader with Rend Lake. The Vols return home Thursday against Wabash Valley. Game times are at 2 and 4.