BY CHAD DARE
Progress was the theme for both the Danville High and Hoopeston Area softball teams on Tuesday afternoon.
The Vikings, under first-year coach Brittni Moorehead, came away with a 12-2 victory in six innings over the Cornjerkers at Winterview Park.
“It’s been a process,’’ said Moorehead, who replaces Wendy Royer at the helm of the Vikings softball program. “We started on Saturday, and we improved in every game at the Rantoul Tournament.
“I think that showed today, because we improved even more from Saturday, and it can only get better from here.’’
According to Moorhead, the biggest area of improvement for Danville came with its defense. The Vikings had just two errors in the win.
“It started off a little rocky on Saturday, but we’ve shown today that we’re getting better,’’ said Danville senior Jordan Ogle. “We only had one practice outside before Rantoul, so it helped getting out on Monday and not having any snow on the ground.’’
Ogle is one of two seniors on this year’s Danville squad, along with first baseman Kristi Burghart, who got the offense rolling with a solo home run to right-center in the second inning.
Burghart went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and she also scored three times.
“It started off good today,’’ Burghart said. “I just needed to relax, and swing through the ball. I needed to quit pulling my head like I did in the Rantoul tournament.’’
In addition to Burghart’s offensive contributions, the Vikings got a big lift from a pair of freshmen on Tuesday.
Winning pitcher Mackenzie King and Lindsey Loewenstein each had three hits and they combined for six runs scored.
“There are a lot of young players on this team,’’ said Burghart as Danville started four freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors with its two seniors. “As seniors, Jordan and I are taking the lead, but these younger girls know what they are doing.’’
Moorehead said she has really been pleased with her senior leaders.
“Jordan and Kristi have rallied the team while we’ve been stuck inside with the weather,’’ she said. “They have been keeping things positive, and that’s a good sign for things to come.’’
And, the first-year coach has some expectations for this group.
“We’re young, with only two seniors, but the talent is pretty good,’’ Moorehead said. “As we refine that talent and develop it, I think we can be a really good solid squad.’’
And what about starting four freshmen in the home opener?
“The freshman came in right away and they have shown to be strong players,’’ she said. “We’ve given them the opportunity to show us what they can do.’’
Danville isn’t the only team that has struggled with outside practice time this season.
Hoopeston Area, which committed seven errors on Tuesday, played on Saturday, Monday and again on Tuesday with only one day of practice outside of its gym.
“We’ve been practicing inside and those are much different conditions than what we deal with outside,’’ Hoopeston Area coach Krissi Price said. “You can’t really work on cutoffs or fly balls inside a gym.’’
Karena Colunga and Jhance Marshall led the Cornjerkers offensive attack with two hits each.
Hoopeston Area (3-2) came into Tuesday’s game off a 7-3 win over Oakwood in a Vermilion Valley Conference game on Monday as Jordan McFadden had three hits and five RBIs.
“The game we played last night, we looked good,’’ Price said. “It’s definitely there and we just need to stay positive.’’