Blue Ridge Softball's High-Powered Bats Lead to Victory, Climb up IHSA Record Books

Score by innings
El Paso-Gridley 000 00 -- 0
Blue Ridge         471 1x -- 13

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- Decades after Babe Ruth famously called his shot, Jade O'Neal knew where she would hit her home run on Monday against El Paso-Gridley.

A red Mini Cooper that belonged to her best friend's father was parked beyond the left-field fence. O'Neal bet her friend that she could hit the car with a dinger.

"If I hit it, I get it," O'Neal said. "It was just a spur of the moment."

In the first inning, with the Lady Knights leading 1-0 and runners on second and third base, O'Neal crushed a pitch past the left-field fence. Although she barely missed the car, she hit the first of three home runs smashed by Blue Ridge en route to beating EPG 13-0 in five innings.

Jordan Wheeler and Melinda Wilson each hit solo home runs, giving the Lady Knights 34 home runs for the season. They are now in fifth place on the IHSA's all-time list for homers hit in a season.

They passed St. Joseph-Ogden's 33 hit in 2005. They are one home run shy of fourth place, owned by Cicero-Berwyn and Downers Grove South.

O'Neal's three-run blast in the first inning was her fifth of the season. She drove in Wheeler, who walked and stole second base after Jordyn Fones took home plate on a wild pitch, and Marcie Crawford, who doubled prior to Wheeler's at-bat to send Fones to third base.

Wheeler hit her solo homer in the third inning to give Blue Ridge a 12-0 lead. It was her 10th home run of the season.

Wheeler also was the winning pitcher, increasing her record to 14-3 as she struck out seven EPG batters and allowing only two hits in a complete-game shutout.

Melinda Wilson's solo dinger, hit in the fourth inning, was her sixth of the season and her third in the last two games.

Crawford also produced at the plate, hitting 2-for-3 with two doubles. Her second double drove in Blue Ridge's first two runs of the second inning; Liz Cordes and Hannah Mattingly scored from second and third base, respectively.

Wheeler sent Fones home with an RBI single to make the score 7-0 in favor of the Lady Knights. Then Wilson drove in Crawford and Wheeler with a two-RBI single.

Mattingly hit a double to left-center field, sending Wilson home. Mattingly reached home plate when a ground ball by Kalyn Reynolds resulted in an error on the attempted forceout throw to first base, giving Blue Ridge a seven-run second inning.

With the win, Blue Ridge improves its record to 20-4 overall and 8-2 in the Heart of Illinois Conference. The Lady Knights travel to Tremont for a Tuesday conference game.

El Paso-Gridley, meanwhile, falls to 7-14 overall and 1-7 in the conference.


El Paso-Gridley scored eight runs in the final two innings for a come-from-behind, 10-7 victory over the Knights.

Blue Ridge falls to 7-12 overall and 2-7 in the HOIC.

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