Eggens dominates, leads Mathews past Windham

WARREN – Cheyenne Eggens was nearly perfect for six innings, but on this day she could have been ordinary and gotten away with it.

The Mathews Mustangs sophomore power pitcher received plenty of support from a 10-hit effort. Mix in four errors by the Windham Bombers that led to three unearned runs and it added up to an 8-1 win for the Mustangs in a Division IV district semifinal softball game Monday at Candlelite Knolls.

Eggens didn’t need all the help. She was on her game in allowing only an infield single by Jessica Isler leading off the seventh inning. Eggens struck out 16, walked one and had a perfect game going until walking Madison Kilgore with one out in the fifth inning.

Eggens and Mustangs coach Jim Nicula agreed that it might have been the pitcher’s best performance of the season.

“I woke up feeling good this morning,” Eggens said. “I got plenty of rest; I hydrated a lot. I had a good feeling about this.”

The Mustangs (21-7) will face the Bristol Panthers in what will be a rubber-match game for the district title today. The Bombers were eliminated with an 18-7 record.

The Mustangs took control with a three-run second inning, including one unearned run. They added three more in the third and tacked on two unearned insurance runs in the fifth inning.

Nicula breathed a sigh of relief afterwards.

“This game scared me to death,” Nicula said. “I’m a movie buff, too. I thought this was ‘Rocky III’ against Clubber Lange. Nobody in our area saw Windham coming. Brittany Knight is a phenomenal pitcher. We knew we had to be selective. We wanted to stay low, stay off the rise, be selective and hit the ball. We hit better today than we have all year long.”

Nicula was clearly pleased with Eggens’ performance.

“Cheyenne hasn’t been as dominant this year as she was last year,” Nicula said. “Today she threw harder than she’s thrown all year long. She was really focused. I thought she took a step of maturity today because she knew she was going against someone who is close to being equal if not equal to what she is. She raised her level.”

Knight didn’t get much defensive help from her teammates. It started in the second after consecutive doubles by Maddi Grimes, Meredith Grimes and Jacki Rhine produced two runs. Knight struck out Hollie Shreves and retired Maddy Nicula on a ground ball, but a fielding error on a ground ball by Jenna Siefert allowed Rhine to score.

“They were ready to play and we weren’t,” Bombers coach Elliot Thompson said.

Maddie Williams led off the third with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. Knight hit Meredith Grimes, who then stole second. Rhine, who had three hits and three RBI, doubled home Meredith Grimes. Rhine scored on a single by Shreves.

Both of Mathews’ runs in the fifth were unearned. Jessica Marsico reached on an outfield fielding error leading off. She moved to second on a single by Maddi Grimes and scored on a single by Rhine. Paula Sponsler, running for Rhine, scored on an infield error.

Isler scored an unearned run on a fielder’s choice in the seventh.

Eggens wasn’t upset about not getting a no-hitter.

“It’s really not about individual things,” Eggens said. “Softball is a team sport. I’d rather have the win than have a no-hitter and lose.”