By Mark Clark
After the first meeting with Auburn High, the Central High Lady Red Devils knew the road to an area title had just gotten tougher. But, the odds were not impossible.
So, when Central defeated Auburn 6-5 last week, the Lady Red Devils had fought back into the race and had given themselves a chance to share the area title and play host to the postseason area tournament.
If Central defeated Smiths Station on Tuesday, the Lady Red Devils will have battled back into contention. If they lost to Smiths Station, Auburn will win the regular season title and host the area tournament.
“Last week was a big week for our team. We were able to get a huge area win over Auburn and another one with Stanhope Elmore. The Auburn win gave us a chance to share the area title with them. I thought we played very good for most of the game. It was not a complete performance so that gives us a few things to work on, but it got the job done. We were able to get a couple of big hits with runners in scoring position. Shelby Newsome and Kyleigh McHargue had a great night. Kyleigh has been very steady all year. That consistency has been a big boost for our line-up. She has worked hard to bounce back from last season,” Central coach Mitchell Holt said.
“We are very proud of our girls. Auburn is a good team with a lot of senior leadership. To bounce back against them after the last game we played them was big for our girls. We are 1-1 against them, but those games mean nothing. What will matter is if we can defeat them in May when a lot more is at stake,” Holt added.
Desalynn Nesbitt went the distance inside the circle to earn the pitching victory over Auburn. She gave up eight hits and four earned runs. At the plate, Newsome was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Mckinnon Howard was 2-for-4. Nayelica Diaz and McHargue were each 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs each. McHargue had a double.
After watching Auburn battle from a 5-2 deficit to tie the game at 5-5 with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Central scored the winning run in the seventh inning. Newsome singled and stole second with two outs. McHargue followed with a double to drive home Newsome with the winning run.
Nesbitt sat down Auburn’s hitters in order in the bottom of the inning to secure the win.
Central then defeated Stanhope Elmore 6-1 to improve to 26-12 for the season. Briana Murray was the winning pitcher, going five innings, allowing four hits, one run and striking out five. Lane Thaxton earned a save. She gave up one hit over two innings.
At the plate, McHargue was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Thaxton was 1-for-3 with a home run with two RBIs. Madison Hurt was 1-for-3 with a triple.
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first inning, Central tied the game in the bottom of the frame. Newsome was hit by a pitch and scored on a double by McHargue.
Central took the lead in the bottom of the third. Howard singled, stole second and scored on a McHargue single.
The Lady Red Devils scored four runs in the fourth inning. Diaz tripled and came home when Thaxton homered. Murray and Howard both had singles, advanced on stolen bases and scored when Newsome doubled.
“It has been great watching this team mature over the season. We could have had a letdown game against Stanhope Elmore after the big win over Auburn and with the Prom coming up, but the girls stayed focused and got the job done,” Holt said.
Central was slated to play Beauregard thus past Monday and Smiths Station on Tuesday after Citizen Press time. The team will face Stanhope Elmore at Auburn University tomorrow night. On Saturday, the team will travel to the University of Alabama for a round-robin tournament. Next Tuesday, the team will play its final regular season home game against Tallassee.