RANTOUL — The Mount Zion offense flexed its muscles to open postseason play, with Dayna Kennedy picking up where she left off after last year's run to state.
Kennedy, who went 10-for-15 with five home runs during regionals, sectionals and super-sectionals last season, went 2-for-2 with a home run and reached base in all four at-bats in a 13-3 win against host Rantoul on Tuesday.
"Our offense did a great job — the top part of our lineup was huge," Braves coach Greg Blakey said. "Dayna's home run that got us jump started a little bit, and we had strong pitching performances from Chayse Ramey and Ally Bruner that set the tone as well."
Also for the Braves (26-4-1), Kynzie Wrigley was 3-for-3 with two doubles and Bailey Davis was 3-for-4 with a double. Mount Zion will play Paris at 11 a.m. in Saturday's regional final.
"We just need to keep putting together a strong offensive performance and keep going with our pitching," Blakey said. "It’s carried us this year, and hopefully it continues.”
Charleston 11, Mattoon 0
MAHOMET — Charleston softball set goals and then set them aside.
Blain Mayhall gathered his team before the season and chatted about their expectations, their outlook, their desired destination at the end of the year after last season’s run to the sectional finals. They all agreed they’d like to get back there – and ideally farther.
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And that was that. Mayhall says they don’t discuss those goals after setting them, that there are no thoughts of the bigger picture during or after each game. Maybe so. But watching Charleston on Tuesday and considering everything the Trojans have done in a 27-4 regular season, it’s hard not to think another deep playoff run is just getting started and that, maybe, that’s a little bit of what’s on their minds.
“We really want to go all the way,” infielder Macey McElravey said, allowing a glimpse into their visions.
The Trojans scored in every inning and drove in their first 10 runs with two outs. In the circle, Emily Price allowed four hits in hurling a shutout.
“This is the first game of trying to achieve those goals,” Mayhall said. “They came out and made a statement.”
The game was a departure from the two meetings between these Coles County rivals from early April, when they went swing for swing before Charleston pulled out two high-scoring, closely contested wins. This time, though, the Trojans operated with the swift precision and ruthlessness of a robbery crew in an old western movie. They strutted into the bank, knocked out everyone and left with the loot, onto their next destination.
“Mattoon’s a good team. It’s a competition every time,” Mayhall said. “Our girls just came out ready to go.”
Mattoon (13-16) had its season end a day after defeating Champaign Centennial in the opening round.