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After the fourth inning of Monday’s Class

After the fourth inning of Monday’s Class 1A Supersectional game between Milledgeville and Grant Park, the Missiles made sure to score emphatically.

The emphasis wasn’t only on the number of runs tallied on the scoreboard in the Missiles’ 9-1 win at Bell Field on the campus of Northern Illinois University.

It was how the Missiles literally crossed the plate. Kelsey Hayen actually stopped momentarily on the plate to make sure that her run would be tallied.

The Missiles weren’t trying to rub it in to the Dragons. They were being thorough in touching the plate.

In the fourth inning, Courtney Swalve’s two-run home run became a solo homer after it was ruled that Brandie Gelwicks did not touch the plate after coming in from third base.

“We’ve actually had a problem with stuff like that all season,” said Swalve, who now has six homers this spring. “We’ve had that kind of situation before. It’s something that we have to get better at.”

Gelwicks insisted after the game she did touch the plate. No one could really confirm it.

I mean, whose eyes stay on a runner when the ball is heading toward the fence?

No one’s.

Everyone wants to see a dinger, even an umpire. It’s natural, like trying to catch a glimpse of the after effects of an accident on the highway. We just gotta see.

The base running was the most noticeable aspect of the game in the first couple innings.

Milledgeville had a runner advance a base on two separation occasions after Grant Park players were called for interference. Both calls were right. The Dragons impeded the progress of the runner, but the calls themselves were unique. I can’t recall the last interference call I saw in a high school softball or baseball game.

The first happened at second base in the first inning, as Emily Bush plowed through the shortstop standing in the basepath as Bush turned to go to third.

I don’t think I was the only person who held their breath hoping that the Missiles’ ace pitcher wouldn’t injure a wrist playing bumper ball on the bases.

In the end, it was the Missiles who ran the bases well enough to go along with great pitching, good defense and an offense that started to fire on all cylinders.

It’s on to state. The best way to put emphasis on the season.

The Missiles softball team has never been to East Peoria to compete for a state title, despite having solid teams for the last decade.

For us manning the sports desk, it just doesn’t seem like a school year without a trip to state softball. We’ve had a team make it to EastSide Centre every year since 2006, and eight times in the last nine seasons.

Four of those times, it was the Morrison Fillies taking a crack at the state’s best. In 2009, it was West Carroll in 2A, and back in 2006 it was the Eastland Cougars. The Rock Falls Rockets started the previous run in 2004.

Morrison competed in 2A after the state went to four classes in 2008. They competed in Class A in 2007 in the two-class system. The Fillies became the area’s first softball state champion last June.

The Missiles could become the first Class 1A state champion in softball in the area.

If they do, I’m sure they’ll do it emphatically.

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