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Battle for Highland softball supremacy put on temporary hold when tournament final rained out

Battle for Highland softball supremacy put on temporary hold when tournament final rained out

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NEW MELLE — Ely Hadowsky is an attorney by trade.

So the Southern Illinois Insanity softball manager talked his way into keeping the trophy — for the time being.

The Insanity and the Lady Roughnecks were all set to square off for the championship of the Under-16 division of the Post-Season Warm-Up Tournament on Sunday night at the New Melle Sports and Recreation Center.

Then came lightning and rain. Plenty of both.

And the much-anticipated battle between the teams was postponed to another day.

Both of the select club squads feature a host of players from Highland, Illinois.

USSSA Tournament officials decided to let the teams play the title game on their own — in Highland — sometime in the next two weeks.

Hadowsky was given the first-place plaque for safekeeping until the teams play and an official champion is crowned.

“It’s all right with me,” Roughnecks manager Michael Neace joked. “I trust him.”

The contest would have been the first meeting between the neighboring programs in a high-level tournament final.

Players and fans were looking forward to the “Battle of Highland.”

Now they will have wait for a week or two. No makeup date has been set, although both teams agreed to play the contest in Highland to appease the rabid fan bases of both programs.

“We compete with each other and we respect each other,” Hadowsky said. “There’s no one else we would rather play for the championship.”

The teams meet on a regular basis in pickup games but never have faced each other with a U-16 title on the line.

Almost all of the players from both groups know one another. But they all chose to sit with their teammates while waiting out the rain delay.

"Teammates first," Neace said.

Both clubs rallied from deficits in the semifinal round and carried plenty of momentum into the final.

The Roughnecks (7-8) charged back from a 5-0 deficit to knock off Total Contact of Woodlawn, Illinois, 7-6. The Insanity (8-5) rallied from 2-0 down to beat the Missouri Bombers 4-2.

Everything was set for the dream match — until Mother Nature intervened.

“We were ready to play, we had the fire,” said Insanity infielder Abby Durbin, who will be a junior at Vandalia High in the fall.

Six of the Insanity starters go to Highland High. The team also draws players from Vandalia, Greenville and Mulberry Grove high schools.

The Roughnecks have several Highland regulars on their roster along with players from nearby Triad High.

“Our girls had energy,” Neace said. “They felt like they were rolling — they were ready to go.”

Nease didn’t put up a fuss when Hadowsky and his players were handed the first-place trophy for temporary safe keeping.

“I know where they live,” he joked. “We can take care of business if we have to.”

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