Nashville pitching ace Maci Ingram dominated another softball game Tuesday, striking out 18 during a two-hit shutout that lifted the Hornettes into the Class 2A Carterville Sectional final with a 5-0 victory over Pinckneyville.
After fanning the side in each of the first three innings, the McKendree University recruit earned the rare four-strikeout frame in the fourth and recorded 15 strikeouts through her first five innings of work.
“I think Maci is throwing extremely well right now, and actually I think she’s throwing the best of her career lately,” said Nashville coach Dempsey Witte, whose team beat River-to-River Conference rival Pinckneyville for the third time this season. “She’s hitting her spots and the ball is moving. I mean 18 strikeouts against a great-hitting lineup is impressive.”
Nashville (35-2) scored first when Alli Liske hit an RBI single to center field in the second inning for a 1-0 lead. Emily Thompson and Brooke Burcham each drove in runs during a three-run third inning for Hornettes as well.
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“From top to bottom, it was great to see everybody having quality at-bats,” Witte said. “We put some pressure on them, and we were good on the bases.”
Mackenzie McFeron produced three hits, including a pair of bunt singles, for the Hornettes. She also stole four bases in the first three innings of the game.
Pinckneyville’s best chance to score came in the fourth inning. Brooklyn Morrow hit a long fly ball to left field, which would probably be a home run in any other ball park in Southern Illinois.
Carterville’s spacious dimensions held it to a double.
Ingram proceeded to strike out the next four batters in the frame.
“It’s not that she throws hard, she just throws with late movement,” Pinckneyville coach Alan Engelhardt said of Ingram. “I think, especially with a lot of our younger kids, we did not adjust. It’s a learning experience for some of our younger kids for sure. We made some mistakes that cost us some runs as well.”
The most exciting moment of the day came in the fourth inning from Nashville’s leadoff hitter, Jordi Harre.
The senior Kaskaskia College recruit belted a line drive into the right field corner and flew around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
“Jordi is extremely fast and gets great jumps on the bases,” Witte said. “I kind of had my mind made up around second that we were going to give it a shot. It’s easier to take that shot when you’ve got a lead.”
Pinckneyville finished its season with a record of 24-10. Nashville moves on to Saturday’s championship game against either Carterville or Carmi-White County. Both of Nashville’s losses this season came to Carterville in River-to-River Conference play.
Class 2A Williamsville Sectional
Pleasant Plains 2, Dupo 0
Pleasant Plains pushed across two runs in the fourth inning Tuesday on an RBI double by Lexie Yockey and RBI single by Maddie Ray to get past Dupo in the semifinals of the Class 2A Williamsville Softball Sectional.
Pleasant Plains pitcher Olivia Carter limited the Tigers (21-8) to five hits, three of which were doubles by Rachael Donald, Savannah Maldonado and Alyssa Strubberg. Kylee Kahbea and Yockey scored the runs for Pleasant Plains against Dupo starter Jessica Stansch, who allowed only five hits and struck out four.