Gleason goes deep twice, Lady Panthers down Fairfield to advance to Sectional Finals
Pinckneyville's Josie Gleason hits her second home run of Tuesday's Sectional. (Doug Daniels Photo)
By Doug Daniels
1351sports.com / pinckneyvillesports.com
May 23, 2018
(Johnston City, Ill.) - "It's the postseason, Josie's here." That statement, thrown around light-heartedly amongst the Lady Panthers themselves, is far from an actual joke to Pinckneyville's opponents.
Josie Gleason belted two home runs and Mariah Clark also went deep while taking a perfect game in the circle into the sixth inning, helping PCHS advance to the Sectional championship game with a 9-2 win over Fairfield on Tuesday at Johnston City.
A season ago, Gleason was the Lady Panthers' hottest hitter heading into the State Finals, going 9-for-16 with 4 homers and 14 RBIs from the Regional semifinals up through the Super-Sectional. Unbelievably, she's on pace to surpass all of those numbers this season, when through three postseason games she's 6-for-7 with 4 long balls and 10 RBIs.
"She just adjusts from pitch to pitch," PCHS head coach Alan Engelhardt said of Gleason. "We talked about as the game went along our focused waned a little bit, and it's easy to do when you have a lead like that, but Josie stays locked in. That's what the great ones do. The good ones give away an at-bat here or there, the great ones don't. She's just locked on, swinging at good pitches, taking good swings."
Clark got PCHS on the board in the bottom of the first with a sacrifice fly to plate Daisy Dudek, who started the inning with a leadoff triple. The third inning is where things started to get ugly for Fairfield. Lady Mules' pitcher Chloe Newman hit the first two batters of the inning, setting the table for Gleason's three-run bomb to make it 4-0.
"She was trying to roll me an outside change-up pitch," Gleason said of the at-bat, "then she came in with an inside rise ball, up in the zone, it was a little flat, so I just took it over the fence. Inside pitches have always been my thing, I love them."
The inning continued with RBI hits by Kylee Kling (triple) and Megan Mayo (single), and suddenly Pinckneyville was in total control up 6-0.
"I thought we were really locked in early," said Engelhardt. "The first few at-bats we got under it, hit some fly balls, kind of swung at her pitches. Towards the middle of the game we got our pitch and didn't miss it, and that's what hitting's about. Again the bottom of the order does their job, turning it over to the top, and that's when you score some extra runs is when your top keeps getting back up there."
Clark would add an opposite-field two-run homer in the fourth, Gleason hit her second one in the sixth, an opposite-field solo shot.
Clark gave up three hits including a solo home run by Newman in the seventh. She finished the day with eight strikeouts.
"You expect it from her, that's the funny thing," Engelhardt said. "You expect her to only give up a hit or two, or no hits, she's been that good all year for us."
Dudek (1-4, R, 3B), Clark (1-2, R, 3 RBI, HR, SAC, HBP), Gleason (2-2, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 HR, BB), Kling (1-3, R, RBI), Mayo (1-3, RBI), Taylor Witges (1-3, 2 R, HBP) and Lauren Jackson (2-3, 2B) had hits for Pinckneyville.
The Lady Panthers will meet the winner of Wednesday's other semifinal between Trico and West Frankfort in the championship round on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Johnston City.
Photos and video by Doug Daniels / PinckneyvilleSports.com
Mariah Clark's two-run homer against Fairfield. (Doug Daniels Video)