GIBSON CITY — Reagan Romshek and Kaiti Bowen form one of the best pitcher-catcher duos in area softball.
The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley backstop showed that in Tuesday's 15-0 five-inning win against Armstrong-Potomac in a Class 1A regional semifinal.
Bowen, a McKendree University signee, went 3 for 3 with three runs scored, four RBI and a key two-run double to spark a five-run second inning that put GCMS up 9-0. Romshek, an Illinois State signee, threw a one-hitter and struck out six in an efficient complete game. Of her 60 pitches, 46 were strikes.
"She threw well," GCMS coach Jim Lewis said. "She kept the ball in play. I don't think she threw many balls. She walked one hitter, but she was ahead in the count on about everybody and let her defense work for her."
The rest of the Falcons aren't too shabby, either.
Top-seeded GCMS (27-8) had nine players get at least one hit in collecting 16 against the fourth-seeded Trojans (8-19), who were aiming to play in their first regional final since 2005. GCMS will meet either No. 2 Fisher or No. 3 Ridgeview — those two schools play at 4:30 p.m. today in the other regional semifinal — at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The Falcons are tryingfor their third regional title in the last four seasons.
Whoever the Falcons play, GCMS will come in the favorite since both Fisher and Ridgeview have losing records. Not that it matters to Lewis, who saw his team beat the Trojans for the third time this season.
"Everybody's 0-0, and you've just got to come play," he said. "You can't look past anybody in any game. Whatever hitter comes to the bat with the bat in their hand, they're dangerous. You've got to approach it in that manner."
First baseman Jackie Freehill went 4 for 4 with an RBI on Tuesday to complement Bowen's superb day at the plate. Right fielder Courtney Grawley was 2 for 2 with three RBI, and third baseman Jessica Hunter reached base in all four of her plate appearances, scoring three runs.
"We've been kind of struggling with runners in scoring position," Lewis said. "Hopefully we can continue what we did (Tuesday). That's our goal: either to get on base, and if there's somebody on base we want to move the runner."
A-P could do little of that against Romshek. The Falcons overcame two errors in the first inning with a Romshek strikeout of Trojans catcher Kirsten Newnum to end the Trojans' only significant scoring chance.
Megan Porter collected A-P's only hit with a single in the second, but the Trojans already trailed 4-0.
GCMS scored at least three runs in all four innings it batted, and A-P committed six errors. A close play at home plate in the first inning drew the ire of A-P head coach Brian Russell and knocked Newnum out of the game.
With the Falcons ahead 2-0, GCMS' Ana Stanley hit a soft liner over the pitcher's circle. A-P second baseman Abbie Stewart dove, but the ball popped out of her glove. Trojans pitcher Morgan Zindars collected the ball and threw home, where Hunter slid into Newnum. Newnum had control of the ball and applied the tag, but the ball popped out and Newnum went down in a heap of pain as the home plate umpire ruled Hunter was safe.
Newnum had to be carried off the field in a 10-minute delay and went to Gibson Area Hospital for further evaluation.
"No matter who it is, when one of your players gets hurt, it sets the tone for the rest of the game," Russell said. "We just couldn't overcome it. We had a chance. (Romshek's) a good pitcher. We were geared up for her, and I think had that play not happened, I think it's a different ballgame, but you've got to tip your cap to them. They hit the ball where we weren't."