GIBSON CITY -- The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley softball team had a plan for the weather on Friday, which included a wind advisory for Ford County from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.
The National Weather Service said the winds could have gusted up to 45 miles per hour.
"From a pitching standpoint, our goal was to keep the ball down so that didn’t happen to us. From a hitting standpoint, we like to go after the higher ones," GCMS head coach Kara Smith said. "That way, if it does get caught up in the wind, then the wind can possibly take it out, but we want good, solid contact. That’s what the main priority is – hard line drives.”
The strategy helped the Falcons hit four home runs in a 12-2 five-inning win that day over El Paso-Gridley.
“The wind was definitely in our favor today," Smith said.
The first of those first four home runs came off the bat of Madi Eberle, who belted a 2-0 pitch past the left-field fence to give GCMS a 1-0 lead with one out in the first inning.
Lindsey Heinz doubled to left field in the next at-bat before scoring on an RBI single hit to left field by Lauren Leonard.
On a 3-1 pitch, Maci Bielfeldt hit a two-run homer to left field to extend the Falcons' lead to 4-0.
In the second inning, Hannah Hathaway was hit by a pitch and Eberle drew a one-out intentional walk -- of which Eberle told Heinz to "make it hurt" as she made her way to first base -- before Heinz smacked a three-run homer past the center-field fence.
“Those are great to see," Smith said about Maci Bielfeldt's and Heinz's home runs.
Lauren Leonard doubled to center field in the following at-bat before Makenzi Bielfeldt sent her home with an RBI single to left field.
“I think the girls came out and started hitting very well off their pitcher," Smith said. "They made some very good adjustments.”
Meanwhile, Eberle tossed a no-hit shutout through the first three innings -- and 38 pitches -- on the mound with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Maci Bielfeldt pitched the final two innings for GCMS, allowing two runs -- one earned -- on three hits and no walks.
One day earlier, Eberle, Lauren Leonard combined to pitch a two-hitter in a victory over Watseka. The prior Tuesday, Eberle and Maci Bielfeldt combined to pitch a no-hitter in a win over Armstrong-Potomac.
The Falcons also won two games Saturday, April 6, in the Armstrong-Potomac Tournament with Lauren and Peyton Leonard each winning a game on the mound and Lauren Leonard being credited with a save.
“It’s a great thing to see Maci, Peyton and Lauren come in to finish innings," Smith said. "They’re all looking pretty sharp and pretty good. I’m pretty excited and proud of that.”
With an 0-1 count in EP-G's final at-bat of the third inning, the game was delayed due to an injury to the home-plate umpire.
From there, the Titans outscored GCMS 2-1 from the bottom of the third inning to the top of the fifth thanks in part to two errors by the Falcons' defense.
“Accidents happen. I think we had the momentum before then, and I think it got some of the girls flustered, but once we got back together, we came out on top. We need to learn not to let that get to us and to still put the pedal to the metal," Smith said.
“I think we got lackadaisical. We didn’t really stick to the game plan that we wanted, but once we got everything taken care of, we did.”
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Sadie Christensen and Maci Bielfeldt each drew a walk before Christensen advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a steal of home plate.
Hathaway and Ashley Hyatt each walked to start the bottom of the fifth inning. On a full count, Eberle hit her second home run of the game past the left-field fence to clinch the game for the Falcons via 10-run rule.
“That was great contact for her," Smith said.
The win over EP-G was GCMS's fifth in a row and improved the Falcons' record in the Heart of Illinois Conference to 2-1, and their overall record to 7-4.
“It was a good conference win," Smith said.
GCMS 12, El Paso-Gridley 2
EPG 000 11 -- 2 3 1
GCMS 440 13 -- 12 9 3
W -- Madi Eberle, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 7 K, 0 BB. L -- Skolek, 2 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 0 K, BB.
El Paso-Gridley -- Ashlyn Stone 1-3. Addison Benedict R. Paternoga 1-2, RBI. Laudrus 1-2, 2B, R. Skolek RBI.
GCMS (6-4, 2-1) -- Ashley Hyatt R, 2 BB. Madi Eberle 2-3, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 R. Lindsey Heinz 2-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBIs, 2 R. Lauren Leonard 2-2, 2B, RBI, 2 R. Sadie Christensen R. Maci Bielfeldt 1-2, HR, 2 RBIs, R. Makenzi Bielfeldt 1-3, RBI. Dani Eckerty 1-2, 2B. Hannah Hathaway 2 R.