MILFORD -- Coach Taylor Biehl thought her team was playing a little tight early in the season.
The Fairbury softball team returned a lot of experience from last year’s squad -- and many of those players were on the 2017 state tournament team -- and the Jeffs are expected to contend in Class C.
The Jeffs appear to be loosening up in a big way.
Top-ranked Fairbury, and its high-powered offense, rolled to a 15-1, six-inning win against No. 5 Milford on Thursday. The Jeffs scored nine runs in the top of the sixth to put the game away.
It was another impressive win for the Jeffs (12-3), who defeated three rated teams in last weekend’s Fairbury Invitational, and followed with a 10-run win against No. 9 Auburn on Tuesday.
“I think in the beginning, we were really, really tight and then I could see us start to loosen up in a good way, and I think that’s kind of where we are right now,” Biehl said. “We’re kind of getting our mojo back a little bit.”
Thursday’s game had a similar flow to Fairbury’s season overall. The Jeffs scratched out single runs in the first and third innings before the bottom of the lineup ignited a four-run fourth.
Biehl said the Jeffs are good at making in-game adjustments at the plate, a credit that goes to her husband and assistant coach Todd Biehl.
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“Usually we’ll start off hitting it here and there, and then once we get through and get going, we’re usually pretty on fire,” said senior Raven DeFrain, who finished with four RBIs, including a two-run homer crushed to center field. “We’re all just talking to each other and communicating.”
Seniors Cora DeBoer and Jaelle Johnson, junior Ellie Ohlde and sophomore Jami Mans are among the many Jeffs who can produce at the plate. It’s a group that has been playing together for a long time.
“I got a group of girls right now that absolutely love the game,” said Biehl, who has coached most of the girls since they were little. “I think the girls that are on the varsity right now all play at a competitive level in the summer, so when they come here in the fall, they’re not afraid of good competition.”
Fairbury’s string of wins come despite being down a pitcher. DeFrain has been slowed by injury, so Mans has been picking up the bulk of the innings, including all three games at the Fairbury Invite. Mans limited a veteran Milford lineup to three hits and struck out five.
The Jeffs, who played up a class last year, seek to duplicate the 2017 path, which got the Jeffs to state. A large senior class is motivated for a big finish.
“We’re starving to get back and we’re ready to go, too,” DeFrain said.
Milford’s tough stretch of games continues. The Eagles (9-3) will see No. 7 Centennial and Class B No. 7 Seward next week.