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Rain 1, Rebels and Mustangs 0
South Effingham players Madison Mills (from left), Peighton Capwell and Hailey Roman run for cover as a hard rain falls during an Aug. 23 softball game against Effingham County at Rebel Field. - photo by Birk Herrath

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

SPRINGFIELD — First impressions were wet ones.

Two first-year coaches squared off in their first Effingham County-South Effingham softball game Aug. 23 and it was half of what they figured with a lot more than a sprinkle of the unexpected.

The key Region 2-AAAAAA game was originally scheduled to be played at SEHS, but wet field conditions led to a change in venues.

It seemed like a good idea until the fourth inning, when there was no escaping the monsoon-like weather that meandered to Springfield.

A scoreless game was rained out before ECHS batted in the bottom of the fourth inning. The game will be replayed from the start at South Effingham on Sept. 29.

“It went back and forth all day long before we decided we could play at our place,” Rebels coach Brad Thompson said. “I guess it just turned into a glorified scrimmage.”

And an exercise in making a mad dash for the buses.

Having an umbrella on standby isn’t a bad idea these days. About 9½ inches of rain (more than 4 inches above the norm) have fallen in the area during August, according to the Weather Channel’s website.

Two inches of rain fell Aug. 21-22  leading into the game.

“We were trying to do what we could to get the field in playing condition but we felt it wouldn’t be a safe environment,” Mustangs coach Adam Newland said.

At about 4 p.m., the coaches decided to move the game to Springfield. Umpires were called, buses were secured, ECHS game operation workers summoned, fans were alerted on social media.

At 6:30 p.m., the first pitch was thrown — only 30 minutes later than the normal starting time. A big crowd jammed the stands.

“I’m not surprised to see the fans make a shift so quickly,” Newland said. “It was just a change of venues within the county.”

For 3½ innings, a pitcher’s duel ensued between ECHS’ Rylee Mills and SEHS’ Bailey Kendziorski. Ava Wingate had the lone hit for the Rebels and Peighton Capwell had the only hit for the Mustangs.

Neither team got a baserunner past first.

“You could see how both schools’ fans support the girls,” Thompson said. “I think it’s going to be a good little situation.”

The last five years either Effingham County or South Effingham has won the region championship. Since 2019, the last nine meetings, ECHS has won five; SEHS four.

Newland said he stresses the importance of each region game, but in this game, “there’s a different level of intensity (his players) are feeling, for sure.”

But the rain won this time with Mother Nature displaying a tricky curveball.

“After our game, my assistant coach was driving past South Effingham,” Thompson said. “It never rained a drop there.”

The Rebels and Mustangs still have three meetings scheduled — Sept. 13 at ECHS, Sept. 19 at SEHS (the makeup game) and Oct. 6 at SEHS.