By Mark Clark
Coming off a week that produced their first regular season tournament title since 2015, the Central High Lady Red Devils lost a pair of games to fall to 7-5 for the still young season. While losing two games this early normally means little in the overall picture, one of Central’s losses came at the hands of area rival Auburn High, a loss that hurts the team’s hopes of winning the regular season area title.
Auburn beat Central 12-2 at the Lady Red Devils’ home field two days after the team lost on the road at Tallassee 6-3.
“This third week of the season was not very good for us. We were 0-2 with losses to Tallassee and Auburn. We did not play good defense against Tallassee and we struggled inside the circle against Auburn. We are still trying to figure out who we are as a team. We have four or five girls that we can put in the circle, but they need experience. We do not have a Gracie Deaton like we’ve had the last three seasons – someone who is consistent day after day. Overall, we have talent. We just need to gain that experience. Auburn is a senior heavy team and they made us make mistakes. We stressed to the girls after that loss that we have to stay on an even keel. We cannot panic,’ Central coach Mitchell Holt said of last week’s games.
“I believe in this team. I believe that great things are ahead for it. I tell the girls all the time that they will be great and it is just a matter of time before things click. After we lost to Auburn, we reassured the girls that we still believe in them. We are going to go back to work and fix those things that we are doing wrong. Starting off 0-1 in the area makes it where you have to win the next three area games and hope for some help if you want to win this thing and play host to the tournament. We have done it before, but it is not an easy road. We will keep working to be at our best when things matter the most,” Holt added.
Central started off last week with a 6-3 loss to Tallassee on the road. The Lady Red Devils took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Kristen White began the inning with a single. She went all the way to third base on a single by Shelby Newsome. White scored when Kyleigh McHargue slapped the third consecutive single of the inning.
Unfortunately, the Lady Red Devils’ lead was erased in the bottom of the inning when Tallassee scored three runs.
Central cut the margin to 3-2 with a run in the second inning. Breanna Leininger walked, went to second on a passed ball and scored on a Bailey Davis single.
Tallassee went ahead 5-2 before Central scored its final run in the fifth inning. Newsome tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by McHargue.
Tallassee added a final run in the sixth to make the score 6-3.
Leininger was the losing pitcher for Central. She went two innings before being relieved by Desalynn Nesbitt, who threw the next three innings. Briana Murray pitched the final inning of the loss.
Newsome was 2-for-3 to lead Central at the plate. She had her team’s only extra base hit with her triple. McHargue was 1-for-2. Davis was 1-for-3 and White was 1-for-4.
Central followed that loss with a 12-2 loss to Auburn in area play. Auburn scored twice in the top of the first inning and Central matched that number in the bottom of the frame.
In the bottom of the first, down 2-0, White reached base on an error, stole second, took third on a passed ball and scored on Newsome’s ground out. With one out, McHargue hit her team-leading fourth home run to tie the score.
But, Auburn scored nine runs in the second inning to make the score 11-2 and added another in the third inning to lead by 10 runs at 12-2. The Tigers held Central scoreless for the balance of the game and won on the mercy rule.
Madison Hurt led Central’s hitters with a 2-for-2 performance. Nesbitt was 1-for-2. McHargue and Newsome were both 1-for-3. McHargue and Newsome both had RBIs.
Central was slated to play a single game at Prattville Christian on Tuesday after Citizen Press time. Today, Central is at home to play host to Prattville at 7 p.m. EDT. Next Tuesday, the Lady Red Devils will travel to Smiths Station for their second area game of the season. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. EDT. The doubleheader with Rehobeth has been rescheduled for April 3.