A quick look at Metamora's record doesn't exactly tell the whole story.
Those 21 losses have come playing a tough, tough softball schedule. The Redbirds (11-21) faced 11 opponents ranked or receiving votes in the final Illinois Coaches Association poll.
Metamora ended up going 2-11 in those baker's dozen contests, with victories over Class 2A No. 5 Olympia and Class 3A ninth-ranked Notre Dame.
"When you're younger and you're learning to play at the varsity level, it can be tough," said Metamora coach Deric Linder, whose seventh-seeded team enters Monday's 3A Chillicothe regional play hosting No. 9 seed Richwoods (2-11).
Adjusting to that level of difficulty has come with some ups and downs.
Take Thursday's 5-0 victory over Canton as a positive.
Senior Elizabeth Ufheil provided a pair of pinch-hit singles, including a two-out RBI as part of five two-out hits in a row started by freshmen Kayla Pacha. Maddi Benson went 3-for-4 from the cleanup spot. The junior, who is batting a team-best .333 with three home runs and 22 RBIs, came through with a trio of RBIs.
“Sometimes you just need one of those wins,” Linder said. “(Maddi’s) really growing up a lot, and she’s going to be a special one. Somebody in college is going to get a good one.”
Count Kaylee Hieronymus as another bright spot in the Metamora lineup. She has seven doubles, 17 RBIs and 21 runs. But the senior’s presence is also felt very much in the circle. Her ability to not only pitch but also being able to field her position makes her very valuable.
“I’ve never really had a natural position,” said Hieronymus, who says she loves playing third baseman. “I kind of just play wherever the coach puts me. My favorite thing is to dive, get dirty and get those groundballs.”
That all-out mentality Hieronymus brings is contagious.
“She's just so good,” Linder said. “She plays so hard. That's what we love about her.”
Consistent hitting has been a bit of an issue this season. The Redbirds hold a .243 team average, while putting up close to five runs a game.
Self assurance at the plate is key, according to Hieronymus.
“We’ve been down lately, not getting many hits,” she said, “and then once we have a base hit then we all feed off it, get all happy in the dugout and the next batter has confidence that they’re going to hit the ball.
“It just keeps going on down the line.”
Adam Duvall can be reached at 686-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.