Times Sports Editor
Clay County has produced some outstanding softball talent in recent years and their success has continued at the collegiate level this season.
Emily Phillips suffered a knee injury during her senior basketball season at Northview High School, which caused her to be sidelined for her best sport, softball.
The Knights' loss that season has been Olney Central Junior College's gain this spring.
Coach Nick Short signed Phillips and that scholarship has paid off handsomely for the Blue Knights youth-laden program.
"Emily has been doing a great job for us, and we wouldn't be where we are without her," Short said. "The knee has not been a factor and that's a credit to her work ethic during rehab and since she has been here in Olney."
Olney Central picked up its 30th win of the season this week with a doubleheader sweep over Kaskaskia. The Lady Knights have swept nine of their 12 Great River Athletic Conference doubleheaders this season.
"Thirty wins is a nice benchmark but we have a lot more games left to play," Short told the Olney Daily Mail following the wins. "We can't rest on our laurels. We didn't play well at their place (the Lady Knights split March 19 at Kaskaskia) so we needed this. As young as we are, I'll take wins any way we can get them."
Phillips had an RBI single in a 9-1 victory in the opener and followed that up with a double and a run scored in game two.
Unfortunately the Lady Knights couldn't continue that success on Thursday afternoon, falling 4-3 in eight innings to John A. Logan and dropped a 6-2 decision in the nightcap. The losses leave the Knights with a 30-12 overall mark and 19-7 in GRAC play.
Prior to that, OCC completed a sweep of Lincoln Trail as Phillips starred at the plate.
The Lady Knights shut out the Lady Statesmen 8-0 in the opening game of the doubleheader and followed that with a 6-0 victory.
Phillips was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored in the second game victory.
The previous weekend, Olney Central was 2-2 with a 5-3 win in eight innings and a 10-4 Friday victory against Southwestern Illinois before dropping a pair at home to Wabash Valley.
"She has shown great diversity offensively, which is nice to have. She hits clean up for us, and has three HR and 30-plus RBI so far. But she has also been able to get down a sacrifice bunt if needed, steal a base, or simply get a base hit to get a runner in," Short said. "She has no ego, and is willing to do whatever is necessary for the team. She is another outstanding student athlete that we have gotten from the Brazil area and Northview in particular and we couldn't be happier with her performance so far."
Through the first 36 games of the season, Phillips has ripped the opposition to the tune of a .402 batting average with seven doubles, two triples, three home runs and 32 RBI. She's also slugging at a .580 clip.
"Emily is a great person and that is what makes her a great teammate," Short said. "She
does the right things on and off the field and always has a positive attitude."
Olney Central will be busy over the weekend, hosting Southwestern Illinois today for a noon doubleheader and play Rend Lake Sunday afternoon in another twinbill beginning at 1 p.m.
A pair of former Lady Knights, Angie Camp of Clay City and Traci Sanders, a Northview graduate, have teamed at Kentucky Wesleyan for their junior seasons.
On Tuesday night, the Panthers swept a doubleheader with cross-town rival Brescia, 7-2 and 1-0, at Kamuf Park.
In the 7-2 victory, North Central (Farmersburg) graduate, Jackie Porter, followed a double by Camp, with an RBI single and she was brought home by an RBI from Sanders.
Camp was 1-for-4 with a run scored in the game, Porter was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI and Sanders was 1-for-1 with two RBI.
For the season, Sanders has hit .200 after returning from an injury that cost her 14 games. She's scored seven times and driven in three for the Panthers. Camp has hit .242 in 95 at-bats with five runs scored and four RBI for the 11-20 Panthers.
The Indiana State Sycamores have compiled a 14-20 overall mark and a 3-8 record in the Missouri Valley Conference following a 5-2 loss to Indiana University on Thursday.
Former Knight, Stephanie Jonson played leftfield for the Sycamores in the game and drew a pair of walks and scored a run for ISU.
Indiana State was able to sweep IUPUI on Wednesday afternoon, scoring a 7-2 victory in game one as Jonson went 1-for-2 with a walk. She also had a hit and a walk in a 1-0 victory in the nightcap.
Indiana State resumes Missouri Valley Conference play today with a doubleheader at Southern Illinois beginning at noon.
At Glenville State, the Lady Pioneers got off to a slow start, opening the year with a 1-9 record, but have rattled off an 11-7-1 mark to improve to 12-16-1 overall and 8-4 in conference play.
On April 10, Glenville State battled West Liberty University in a doubleheader and picked up a sweep with a 1-0 and a 4-1 victory.
In game two, Colson ripped a double to drive in the game's first run and came around to score in the third inning. Colson was the offensive star of the game two victory, going 3-for-4 with an RBI, two doubles and a run scored and registering 12 putouts at first base on defense.
Former Knight, Shelby Colson has hit .227 over 18 games this season and has four RBI in 44 at-bats for the Pioneers through April 13.
The Pioneers are in action at Davis & Elkins in West Virginia on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m.
The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods softball team has had more than a decade of success, claiming the USCAA National Championship seven times since 2000. Clay City graduate, Chelsee Gerber, was part of the 2008 national title team as well as the third-place squad in 2009 and the runner-up team last year.
The Pomeroys have strung together a 14-15 mark overall this season and Gerber has hit .328 overall in 25 games. Gerber has 22 hits in 67 at-bats with three doubles, a triple and a home run with 14 RBI. She has reached base nearly 42 percent of the time this year and has committed just one error in the field.
On April 12, SMWC pounded out a pair of lopsided victories in Arkansas against Crowley's Ridge, 26-0 and 18-0.
In the opening game, Gerber was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored for the Pomeroys and the senior added a 1-for-2 game with three walks, two runs and an RBI in the second game.
SMWC heads to Missouri today to play a doubleheader against Missouri Baptist University at 1 p.m.