BELLEVILLE — The O'Fallon Panthers and the Belleville East Lancers have been scheduled to play three times this spring, and although they came close on Tuesday, they've yet to get in an official game due to the weather.
Played in a steady rain throughout, the contest between the two Southwestern Conference softball rivals was stopped due to lightning with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning and the Panthers leading 11-0.
By then, the conditions had deteriorated to the point where the field was a mud bog.
The Lancers (16-3, 5-1) get a big break since the game must be played over from the beginning.
"I honest to goodness thought we just continued on,'' Belleville East coach Natalie Peters said. "I did not know the game started from scratch. In that sense, we completely lucked out.''
The rain became heavier prior to the Lancers loading the bases with out in the fourth.
That's when Peters went out on onto the field to plead her case with umpires for the game to stopped. The discussion became a moot point when a lightning bolt flashed in the sky.
"Before the game, the umpire said that if you ever feel like the game is in a condition where people are going to get hurt and somebody is going to tear their ACL, then that's the time,'' Peters said. "With (pitcher) Alison Mitts in the batter's box there, what was flashing through my mind there was what if she steps out of the batter's box and goes down. We'd be in trouble.''
O'Fallon coach Kate Walsh had no complaint with the decision to stop the game. However, the decision to start the game was another matter.
"In my personal opinoin, I don't think the game should have been started,'' O'Fallon coach Kate Walsh said. "During warmups, I threw a bat against the fence (slipped out of her hands) over here clearly not meaning to. It's disappointing.''
The Panthers (12-4, 3-1) had not only a potential win taken away, but all the statistics from the game. They had 10 hits, including a two-run homer by Becca Proper.
"We had some really good contact, and all those hits just go null and void,'' Walsh said. "It stinks, and we're going to come back and fight harder next time.''
The wet weather played a factor already in top of the first inning as Sam Ralphs and Taylor Bowlby walked and Taylor Underwood hit a drive to center field that went for a double when Kayla Fields slipped as she tried to make a catch.
Proper, who has four homers and 20 RBIs already this season, followed with a homer over the left-field fence.
The Panthers pushed across seven more runs in the third inning on seven hits and three errors by the Lancers.
Molly Dumstorff and Bowlby had back-to-back doubles to highlight the rally.
"We definitely made a lot of mistakes defensively behind Alison, who was trying to tough it out,'' Peters said. "Both teams are playing in the same conditions, and they rose to the occasion. They hit the ball hard and they put the ball in play. They were definitely outplaying us in every facet of the game.''
In the top of the fourth, the Panthers had three straight batters strike out on purpose as they tried to rush the game along.
"I asked them to take one for the team,'' Walsh said. "I asked them to strikeout. I would never, ever, ever ask a kid to do that in my whole career, but to get the game over with ... we're up 11-0 and it's a conference game. They had to put themselves out there for the team.''
So after three tries, the two teams have yet to play a game that counts. The next attempt is scheduled for next Monday at the O'Fallon City Park.
"I don't know when it's meant to be played,'' Peters said. "I guess will wait and see what the weather holds for us in the future.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.