Senior Amber Eisha’s performance in her last home doubleheader reaffirmed why she has been the heart of the Knox softball team for the past four seasons. The power hitting pitcher went 4-8 at the plate while earning the win in Knox’s 4-3 game one victory before pitching 1 and 1/3 innings in relief in game two to notch a save.
After the Lady Blues went up 2-0 in the third inning of game one, the Prairie Fire battled back led by junior Brittney Price and sophomore Karli Shields. Price tied the game with a two-run single in the third before being knocked in by a Shields base hit that gave Knox the lead. Shields would later add a home-run that gave the Prairie Fire enough insurance to hold on. Eisha battled hard to keep Knox ahead as Illinois College had the leadoff runner in scoring position with no outs in the fifth and sixth innings, but came away with nothing.
In game two, Knox erupted for six runs in the second inning and jumped out to a 10-1 lead after three. When the Lady Blues threatened to comeback, the Prairie Fire went back to Eisha to close the door. With the score 10-7 in the sixth, Eisha took over for Shields and kept Illinois College off the board.
Eisha finished the season with 44 hits which broke the Knox single season record that had stood since 1997. But that is not the only number that indicates the huge space left vacated with her graduation. She finishes her Knox career with a .378 batting average, 16 home-runs, 75 runs batted in and over 422 innings pitched in the circle.
Knox also graduates senior Alyssa Bleidorn, who played two seasons for the Prairie Fire after transferring to the school in 2012. Bleidorn batted .301 out of the two hole this season and was one of the Prairie Fire’s more reliable batters in addition to posting the highest fielding percentage for the team at first base.
Moving forward, the Prairie Fire will likely look to junior Kayla Behrens to help fill the void. After batting just .271 in 2013, Behrens hit .350 this season and her 14 doubles was a school record for a single season. She trailed only Eisha in hits, runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage and will need to take another step forward if the Prairie Fire expect to compete next season.
Knox’s biggest concern will continue to be limiting mistakes in the field. The Prairie Fire’s fielding percentage of .920 was the second worst in the Midwest Conference this season and was the source of too many big innings for opponents.