Allison Pingel grabbed a portion of Three Rivers history over the weekend. With her home run in the Lady Raiders' 12-1 thumping of Southeastern Illinois, Pingel tied Destiny Bolen for the school's career record with 22.
It was Pingel's first home run of the season after she demolished the single-season record a year ago with 21.
"She's just picked up kind of where she's left off so far," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "I think she's got three doubles and a home run in her first four games. Good start to her sophomore season. … Just glad she's gotten off to a good start. Sometimes, kids put too much pressure on themselves in those situations, and she hasn't."
From a team standpoint, Three Rivers is off to a good start in its 2019 campaign at 4-0. After run-ruling Southeastern Illinois in the first game of the day, the Lady Raiders jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning before hanging on to win 6-5 in the second game of its doubleheader.
Three Rivers opened the doubleheader with nearly a perfect game. Abbey Gann gave up one hit in four innings of work in the circle and dealt six strikeouts, earning the win. Adrienne Stucker threw the fifth and final inning, allowing a walk and striking out a batter to finish the run-rule victory.
"(Gann) came out and was dominant from the start," Null said.
The Lady Raiders has a remarkable day at the plate in game one, finishing with 12 hits on 22 at-bats and a dozen RBIs. Pingel led the way with three of those RBIs.
"It was just a strong start," Null said. "... I know Pingel came out and hit her home run in the first, and that's when (Carpenter) hit hers, so our sophomores returning from last year kind of stepped up there, and they were all excited to play at home.
"... That first game, couldn't have asked for it to go any better."
Southeastern Illinois doubled up Three Rivers in total hits on the back end of the doubleheader, but the two-run shots from King and Gerber helped make the difference in the game and keep the Lady Raiders unbeaten through four games. Carpenter and Kirstien Loman batted in the other pair of runs for the Three Rivers to help the hosts edge out the second game.
"We started that game off and bam, we're up 6-0 in the first, and at that point, you're thinking it might be another good one, but they put a slow pitcher in there and we couldn't touch it," Null said.
Saje Kurpiela started at pitcher for the second game. She allowed six hits and four runs, although none were earned as the Lady Raiders were hurt by four errors. Kurpiela struck out five batters, and Gann came in for the final 2 2/3 innings. She struck out six, allowing a hit and an earned run, but still got the job done in the seventh to earn her first save of the season.
"We got in a big jam there in the fifth and Abbey had to come in and struck out two batters, got us out of that jam," Null said. "Other than one missed location in the top of the seventh — she gave up a solo home run — she was pretty flawless all day."
Three Rivers was able to come away with a pair of wins despite not having Lana Reed available for the doubleheader. Reed was with the women's basketball team at the Region XVI Tournament. Null said her absence gives other players a chance to step up and see what they can do with the extra opportunities.
"With her being gone, we get to find out a little bit more about our team," Null said. "We'd love to have her there, she makes us better, but at the same time, it's opportunity for others to show what they can do, and kind of made the best of it there."
Three Rivers will travel to Joplin Friday to play four games in the Joplin Bash, starting with Johnson County Community College at noon Friday.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic