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Softball: Amboy ready to get back to work

Sloppy first game has Amboy eager for redemption in Saturday’s third-place game

EAST PEORIA – After committing four errors in a 6-1 1A semifinal loss Friday afternoon, the Amboy Clippers were really looking forward to getting back on the diamond as quickly as possible.

They'll get a chance to get that bad taste out of their mouths at 10 a.m. Saturday, when the Clippers face West Prairie in the 1A third-place game at EastSide Centre in East Peoria.

"I think we'll be fine," Amboy coach Kelly Whitman said. "It's just a matter of playing solid defense and putting together some hits. We'll shake off this loss and be ready to go."

The Clippers (22-10) were already thinking ahead, showing what short memories they have for what they called one of their worst games in a long time. Besides the four errors that led to four unearned runs, Amboy managed four hits and struck out 12 times against hard-throwing Trico senior Jordan Lodge.

But the Clippers are taking some positives forward with them. After seven of the first eight batters struck out, Amboy started to time Lodge and put the ball in play. Three of the four hits were doubles, and the Clippers had baseunners in each of the last four innings.

"We're going to build from this game," junior catcher Kaitlyn Liebing said. "We've still got work to do, and we know we can finish the season with a win."

Standing in their way of that is West Prairie (26-10), which lost 3-1 to Altamont in the first 1A semifinal Friday. The Cyclones boast six starters and one reserve hitting better than .300, and eight players with at least 12 RBIs.

Senior center fielder Jen Reedy leads the way with a .416 batting average to go with 23 RBIs, and designated player Morgan Weaver has a .321 average with a team-high 25 RBIs. First baseman Tabby Bilderback sets the table from the leadoff spot, hitting at a .374 clip with three doubles, four triples, three home runs and 21 RBIs, and No. 3 hitter Hanna Runner is hitting .360 with 13 doubles, two triples, two homers and 24 RBIs.

Pitcher Kourtney Campbell is 26-8 with a 1.62 ERA, having allowed 206 hits and striking out 200 batters in 225 1/3 innings coming into the state tournament.

"They're a quality team, but they all are at this point," Whitman said. "They're going to put the ball in play, they're going to make some errors, and we'll have to play solid defense and put together some hits if we want to win."

Despite watching the first semifinal, the Clippers are more focused on fixing their mistakes than what West Prairie brings to the table.

The Amboy players and coaches were adamant that they couldn't hang their heads, and instead are ready to finish off the dream season in much better fashion than their first state tournament game.

"We just need to stick together, and play softball like we know how," senior center fielder Micaela McCoy said. "We know what we're capable of, and we'll adjust and come back and play better in our last game of the season."

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