Power display for Raiders

Bryan Veginski
East Peoria senior Ciera Montgomery hangs in to make a throw to first base as a Dunlap softball player slides into her April 22 during the seventh inning. The Raiders launched three home runs to subdue the guest Eagles, 9-4.

East Peoria’s freshmen hit like upperclassmen April 22.

The Raiders won a 9-4 Mid-Illini Conference decision over Dunlap at Mizuno Field as Ashley Emert and Remi Ferguson combined for three home runs and eight RBIs.

“The freshmen are not swinging the bats like freshmen,” EPCHS head coach Denee Menzione said.

Emert was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs.

One spot behind her, in the No. 7 position in the batting order, Ferguson cleared the fence twice while driving on four runs.

Their performances at the plate helped East Peoria outhit the last-place Eagles, 10-4.

Ciera Montgomery and Emert singled to start the bottom of the second inning and both moved up when the Dunlap left fielder mishandled the latter player’s base hit.

Ferguson then drilled a three-run homer to right to make it 3-0.

“She’s been our clutch player this year,” said Menzione of Ferguson. “That was a pretty normal day for her.”

The pitchers were challenged by a strong wind blowing out at EastSide Centre’s premier softball diamond.

An Eagles error in the third helped extend the Raiders’ at-bat and they capitalized as Emert supplied a two-run single to the opposite field to forge a 5-0 advantage.

A Dunlap three-run homer with two outs in the top of the fourth after an infield error kept the inning going tightened the game considerably.

“Our bats picked us up today,” said Menzione. “We can’t gave them those extra runs.”

Sarah Finck worked a 1-2-3 fifth to keep East Peoria in front, 5-4.

Brooke Jacobs and Taylor Kellum, who was 2-for-3, singled to begin the home half of the fifth.

The Eagles turned a double play, but Montgomery reached on an error to score one and set the table for Emert.

She crushed a two-run round-tripper to center for an 8-4 Raiders margin.

“That was a good showing for her confidence,” Menzione said of Emert.

The next batter, Ferguson, followed by sending a ball into orbit even farther than the first  over-the-fence drive.

Finck fanned 11 Eagles with two walks in a complete-game win.

EP 10, Pekin 4

The Raiders stayed one step ahead of Canton with a Thursday road win.

East Peoria’s 6-0 conference record at the end of week three was one game better than second-place Canton.

The Raiders took a 9-0 lead with five runs in the fifth inning.

Jacobs was 3-for-4, while Finck, Kellum and Ferguson all had two hits for East Peoria.

Ferguson homered and drove in three runs, while Finck, Kellum and Montgomery also had RBIs.

East Peoria, the No. 9-ranked team in the Illinois Coaches Association Class 3A state poll, outhit Pekin, 10-4, and played errorless ball.

Finck had zero walks with three strikeouts before Kali George relieved in the sixth.

Panthers Classic

East Peoria won three of its four weekend games to take third place in the 17th annual event in Washington.

Normal University scored two runs in the eighth inning Friday to top the Raiders, 4-3, in the tournament opener.

George, Emert and Ferguson all had two hits, with the latter two both providing a double and driving in a run.

Finck struck out four and walked one before turning the ball over to George in the fifth. Taking the loss, George fanned two and walked one.

East Peoria was ahead 2-0 until a Pioneers two-run sixth inning.

The Raiders doubled up Chatham Glenwood, 4-2, in five innings in their second outing Friday.

Kellum and Emert both were 2-for-2. Emert had a three-base hit, while Tori Lowery and Ally Watson chipped in doubles.

George had two RBIs and Finck and Watson one apiece.

Finck tossed all five frames with five strikeouts and no walks.

East Peoria (17-3) beat a pair of state-ranked Class 2A teams Saturday to complete its appearance.

Six early runs gave the Raiders a hearty cushion in a 7-2 win over Tremont that completed a 2-1 mark in Pool B.

Jacobs was 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI against the Turks, who were rated No. 6 in the April 21 ICA poll.

Kellum was 2-for-4 and drove in a team-high three runs.

George had two RBIs and Watson one. Lowery tacked on a triple.

Finck whiffed nine Tremont batters with no bases on balls for the win. George finished up, beginning in the sixth.

A seven-run outburst in the fifth inning against No. 2 Brimfield carried the Raiders to an 11-1 victory in the third-place game.

George was 3-for-3 and knocked in a run for a squad that scored in every inning but the third.

Finck, Emert and Ferguson had two hits, including a double for each. Watson also contributed a two-base hit.

Finck, Lowery and Watson all had two RBIs, and Jacobs and Emert also plated a teammate.

Finck whirled a four-hit complete game. She had six strikeouts with one walk.

Tournament honors: Emert was an all-tournament selection at catcher.