MOUNT CARMEL — Unity softball loaded up late Wednesday morning for another trip south with just a few minor tweaks to its travel schedule.
This time, it was Jimmy John’s for lunch in the bus instead of a stop to use the slides and swings at Morton Park in Charleston.
“I was supposed to be more specific,” Davis said with a laugh. “It was coach Matt Reed who went down the slide (Tuesday). I didn’t want people to get confused that it was my older coach, coach Dave Ellars.”
The rest of Unity’s trip played out the same Wednesday as the day prior with a repeat stop at Olney Central College for a batting practice session. Then, the journey to Mount Carmel continued for the resumption of the Class 2A sectional semifinal against the Golden Aces after it was suspended Tuesday because of rain.
The delay — and extra travel — didn’t hurt Unity. The Rockets picked up right where they left off, and Taylor Henry proved to be just as unhittable roughly 24 hours later. The Unity ace put the finishing touches on her no-hitter in an 8-0 shutout victory that gave the Rockets (23-2) a shot at a sectional title.
The “who” of Unity’s sectional championship game was already locked in before Wednesday’s win. Unity will face Paris after the Tigers upset Tuscola on Tuesday night. But the “when” and “where,” wasn’t determined until late Wednesday night. The game was originally scheduled to take place Thursday, but will instead happen at 4:30 p.m. on Friday in Tolono.
“I don’t want to play (Thursday), because of all the traveling we’ve done,” she said.
Unity will head into the sectional championship game riding a wave of confidence. The Rockets have won five straight games and have shown a tough combination of Henry in the circle, an efficient defense behind her and a cavalcade of power hitters at the plate.
Henry helped her own cause against Mount Carmel, going 2 for 4 with a double and a team-high three RBI. She wrapped up her no-hitter by striking out eight and walking three.
“She’s a gamer,” Davis said. “We always have the confidence she can do it. She’s pitched really well lately. We’re definitely excited she’s on our team.
“Everything is just fluid right now. She’s hitting spots. She’s in the low pitch count numbers. She’s been pounding the strike zone, and it’s really paid off for her.”
Henry had plenty of help at the plate from her teammates, too. Ruby Tarr was 2 of 4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI, Grace Frye drove in two runs and Maddie Reed hit a solo home run in a win that started on Tuesday afternoon and ended on Wednesday afternoon. With a lot of miles covered in between.
“We put the ball in play a lot,” Davis said. “Any time you can put pressure on the defense, it’s going to be beneficial for you. I’m super excited for the girls. We had a lot of extra-base hits (Wednesday). A home run (Tuesday) to end the first part of the game. We’re just hitting the ball really well right now.”