By Mark Clark
Most coaches would consider a week with three wins and two losses as average effort – unless you are Central coach Mitchell Holt. Holt’s team did go 3-2 in its five games last week and the Lady Red Devils’ coach felt his team had given an exceptional effort.
The Lady Red Devils split a pair of games with Class 5A No. 4 ranked Rehobeth, beat Class 4A No. 1 ranked Alabama Christian Academy, lost to Class 2A No. 1 ranked G.W. Long and then routed Tuscaloosa County.
“We had a good week. We knew going into the week that it would be a tough one. We were playing two No.1 ranked teams and a Rehobeth team that is in the top three or four in their classification. I am very proud of how we played. In the game we lost to Rehobeth, we showed some grit and hit a couple of home runs off a very good pitcher. We got a quality win over Alabama Christian Academy. Desalynn Nesbitt was great again for us. She is 11-1 in her last 12 games and has a 1.14 ERA. She is a great example of putting in the work and being prepared when the opportunity happens. Losing to G.W. Long was tough. The International Tiebreaker rule is a hard way to lose any game. They got the hit when they needed it and we didn’t. Lane Thaxton and Briana Murray matched them pitch for pitch in the game. It is something we can build upon. G.W. Long has one loss and will probably repeat as state champions,” Holt said of his team’s week of play.
But, the big prize is still ahead for Central – the area and state tournaments. Holt said it is still too early for the team to look ahead to anything in the postseason.
“We have a busy week ahead. We want the girls to focus on what we have in front of us right now. We have challenged them to treat the next three weeks like they treated the preseason. It is easy to get complacent at this time of the year. We have asked them to work harder over the next three week. If they do that, they will be ready when it matters,” Holt said.
Central play Rehobeth in a doubleheader at home in its first games last week. Central beat Rehobeth 11-2 in the opening game of the twin bill and lost the second game 7-3.
The Lady Red Devils scored enough runs in the first inning to take the opening contest with Rehobeth. Central led 5-0 after the first inning. The other six runs the Lady Red Devils came in the third inning. The game was never close.
Desalynn Nesbitt was the winning pitcher. She went five innings, allowed five hits, two runs and struck out two. Lane Thaxton pitched the final inning and did not allow a hit. Nesbitt ran her pitching record to 11-4 with the win. Before the week ended, she was 13-4 inside the circle for Central.
At the plate, Mckinnon Howard was 3-for-3 to lead Central. Kristen White, Jaleigh Hardin and Madison Hurt were each 2-for-3 for the Lady Red Devils. Briana a, Shelby Newsome, Hurt and Hardin each had a double for Central.
White led off with a single in the first inning. She scored when Newsome followed with a double. A wild pitch moved Newsome to third. Newsome scored on a ground out by Kyleigh McHargue. Nayelica Diaz walked and moved over to third when Hardin doubled. Both runners scored when Hurt doubled. Hurt scored on a passed ball to make the score 5-0.
Central used four singles, a double, a walk and an error by Rehobeth to plate six runs in the third inning. White, Newsome, Hardin, Hurt, Murray and Howard each scored a run in the inning.
In the second game, it was Rehobeth that took the early lead and held on to win 7-3. Murray was the losing pitcher for Central. She went three innings, allowed four hits, four runs and struck out two.
Thaxton was 1-for-1 to lead Central’s hitters. White, Newsome, McHargue and Diaz were each 1-for-3. Thaxton and McHargue each had a home run in the loss.
Central got back on the winning track with a 6-3 victory over Alabama Christian Academy. Nesbitt was the winning pitcher for Central. Nesbitt went all seven innings in the circle, allowed five hits, one earned run and struck out two,
Thaxton was 1-for-1 and Bailey Davis and Diaz were each 1-for-2. Howard was 2-for-3. Newsome and McHargue were each 2-for-4. Hardin, McHargue and Newsome each had a double. Diaz had a triple and Newsome hit a home run.
Newsome keyed the five-run third inning for Central with a home run. Hardin had an RBI double and Thaxton had an RBI single in the inning. Newsome, Diaz, Hardin, Hurt and Murray scored in the inning.
The loss to G.W. Long came by way of the International Tiebreaker rule in the eighth inning. The two teams were tied 1-1 after seven innings and went into extra innings with a runner placed at second base. Central failed to score in the top of the eighth while G.W. Long scored the game’s winning run in a 2-1 contest.
Lane Thaxton started the game inside the circle for Central. She went four innings, allowed three hits and struck out three. She did not allow a run. Murray stepped in to relieve Thaxton in the fifth inning. Murray allowed three hits, two runs and struck out three to take the loss.
Howard and Newsome were both 1-for-3 and had Central’s only hits in the loss,
Central took the early lead with a run in the first inning. Howard singled, stole second and third bases and scored on a throwing error. G.W. Long tied the game in the sixth inning to force the extra inning.
Central ended last week’s play with a 12-2 rout of Tuscaloosa County. Nesbitt picked up her third pitching victory of the week. She sent five innings, allowed a hit, two runs, no earned run and struck out six. Breanna Leininger pitched two innings to earn the save. Leininger gave up one hit and struck out one.
At the plate, Diaz was 3-for-4 to lead Central’s hitters. Newsome, McHargue, Murray and Fallyn Jordan each had two hits for Central. Jordan and Newsome each had a home run while Hurt had a triple and McHargue doubled in the win.
After both team scored single runs in the first inning, Central took the lead for good in the third inning with a pair of runs. Davis walked and moved to second on a single by Howard. Davis stole third and scored on a ground out. Howard scored later on an error to give Central a 3-1 lead.
Central scored two more runs in the fifth inning, four runs in the sixth and three in the seventh to end the game with a total of 12 runs to Tuscaloosa County’s two runs.
Central was slated to begin this week with an area game with Auburn on Tuesday, Today, Central is scheduled to play at home against Stanhope Elmore. Next Monday, Central is scheduled to be at home for a game with Beauregard. Next Tuesday, the Lady Red Devils finish up area play at home against Smiths Station.