EDWARDSVILLE - Alton sophomore softball pitcher Grace Presley had a great performance against the Kahoks on May 24, striking out 10 batters and allowing four runs on nine hits in the Redbirds' 4-2 loss in the second semifinal of the IHSA Class 4A regional tournament at the Edwardsville District 7 Sports Complex.
Presley got key outs in the game, including getting out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the fifth to keep the game close. The Redbirds did play well, but missed opportunities were very costly in the end. Presley is the Auto Butler Female Athlete of the Month for Alton High School.
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For her performance in the game and in the season, Presley has been selected as the school's Riverbender.com Auto Butler female Athlete of the Month for May 2022.
Presley, who plays for head coach Dan Carter, felt that her team played well and did everything that the Redbirds needed to do in the game.
"I feel good about our game," Presley said during a postgame interview. "They were a really good team, we came out and did what we had to do. We competed with them. There's nothing else I can really say about that."
The game was one that you might typically see in the Southwestern Conference, where the two teams play, with good pitching, timely hitting, and big plays at key times. In addition, the Redbirds lost Alaina Laslie to a sprained ankle in the third inning when her spikes caught in the dirt going from first to second on a ground ball into the outfield. "She's OK," Presley said. "She's going to recover for the select season."
Presley credited her defense for helping her out when needed, and she also felt that it was a big part of her game.
"The key to my game was a good team behind me," Presley said. "They have a lot of confidence in me. I also have a lot of confidence with the coaches, and came out and just performed like I needed to."
Presley rated her own performance as pretty good.
"I think I did pretty well," Presley said. "I definitely could have done better with a few things in my mental state, but I did what I had to do."
As far as Presley goes, she will be prepared for the summer select season ("And perform just how I did tonight," she said) and be ready to return for her junior season with the Redbirds, although without her catcher, Audrey Evola, who's the only graduating senior on the roster.
"I'm expecting exactly what I had tonight," Presley said, "just without our senior, Audrey. And that (stinks)."
The Redbirds ended their season at 11-18 and show much promise for the 2023 season. Presley felt the team overcame a slow start and was playing well at the end of the campaign.
"We started off real slow," Presley said, "but we got our groove into us. We all started to find a way into each other and just did what we had to do and came out and performed."
When asked about her hopes for next season, Presley didn't hesitate to answer.
"I'm hoping for a quick start," Presley said. "I'm going to miss Audrey."