MOUNT CARMEL — Unity left home Tuesday morning for Mount Carmel even with its Class 2A sectional semifinal not scheduled until the afternoon.
There was a purpose behind the decision. Even with a little extra money in the budget to secure a charter bus for the trip, Unity coach Aimee Davis wanted to break up the 134-mile journey for her team.
Jimmy John’s for lunch and some time to run around at a park in Charleston came first. A batting practice session at Olney Central College followed to work in another stop — and some softball — into the trip.
“My assistant coach went down the slide,” Davis said with a laugh. “The girls swung and did all the things they did at 5 years old. I think they had more fun at 16 than they did at 5.
“Even eating together is something where we can build some team bonding and team chemistry. Taking the time to hit at a junior college, it didn’t seem like it was a three-hour long bus ride. It helped mentally for the girls but also physically not sitting in the same spot for three hours.”
Rain in Mount Carmel means Unity will make the same trip again Wednesday. The third-seeded Rockets were at the plate with two outs during the top of the third holding a 4-0 lead when play was suspended because of poor weather. The plan as of Tuesday night was to pick up at that spot at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday back in Mount Carmel.
“I’ve got to give it up to Mount Carmel,” Davis said. “They had some parents — some dads — out there for quite a few hours prior to us arriving. After the first inning, we got rain and their field automatically started showing puddles. They got it really playable. They did a really good job with it. They had multiple people working on it. … We got thorough two outs in the third. We’re up to bat, and it just starts down pouring.”
Unity built its early lead thanks to some defensive miscues by top-seeded Mount Carmel. Then, Maddie Reed hit a solo home run, and Ruby Tarr added an RBI to get Unity its four-run lead.
Holding on to that lead when the game restarts Wednesday will be Unity’s new challenge.
“We talked on the way down here,” Davis said. “We drove through rain and got rained on whenever we were hitting at Olney Central College.It’s controlling what we can control. To keep mentally focused and understand that we have a lead, but that could change at any time if we don’t play our game. That’s going to be really important to continue playing with the confidence level we have been.”