Lady Red Devils win first regular season tourney since 2015
By Mark Clark
The drought is over. The Central High Lady Red Devils softball team has a tournament title in hand. On Saturday, Central won the tie-breaker to be named the champions of the 2019 Auburn Invitational Tournament.
Five teams tied with 2-1 records in the tournament. The tie-breaker came down to which team allowed the fewest runs in its three games. Central allowed only 10 and was declared the champion.
“We finished the week 3-1 and won our first regular season tournament since 2015. A lot of good teams were in the Auburn Invitational and five of them tied with 2-1 records. For me, the biggest take away from the week was how well we pitched and played defense,” Central coach Mitchell Holt said.
“We had a very good week and we improved on things from Week 1. We played good defense and pitched very well. We have four pitchers that have wins this season. That’s a very big deal in high school to have four pitchers that can give you a chance much less win ball games is great.”
Before heading to the tournament last Friday night, the Lady Red Devils defeated Hatton 7-4 to improve their record to 5-2. Breanna Leininger was the winning pitcher in the game. She gave up two runs on two hits while pitching four innings. The two runs came in the top of the first inning to put Hatton in the lead 2-0.
The Hatton lead did not last long as Central scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take the lead for good. Nayelica Diaz started the inning with a walk. She took second on a passed ball. Diaz took third when Leininger reached base on a dropped third strike. Leininger stole second base to put runners on second and third. Both runners scored a single by Briana Murray. Murray was out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double. Fallyn Jordan doubled and took third on a wild pitch. She scored when Madison Hurt singled. Hurt stole second and then stole third. Hurt scored on a ground out.
The eventual winning run came in the fourth inning on a Murray home run to make the score 5-2. Central scored two more runs in the fifth inning.
Hatton scored twice in the sixth inning to make the final score 7-4.
Murray was 3-for-3 with her home run and four RBIs. Jaleigh Hardin, Diaz and Jordan each had a double in the win.
Central lost its opening game in the Auburn Invitational to Austin 3-2 in a game decided by the international tiebreaker – placing a runner at second to start the inning.
Desalynn Nesbitt took the pitching loss in relief of Murray. Kyleigh McHargue had a home run while going 2-for-2 at the plate to lead the Lady Red Devils in the loss.
Central won its second game in the tournament when it defeated Fort Payne 13-3. Lane Thornton was the winning pitcher, going four innings, giving up four hits and three runs.
The Lady Red Devils scored in all four innings – one in the first, four in the second, five in the third and three in the fourth.
In the first inning, Kristen White walked, stole second and third bases and scored on a single by McHargue.
In the second inning, the Lady Red Devils got the runs they needed to secure the win. With one out, Hurt singled. McKinnon Howard followed with a walk. Hurt stole second and third bases and scored when White grounded out. Howard stole second and took third on the ground out. Shelby Newsome followed with her first home run of the season to make the score 5-0.
At the plate, McHargue was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Newsome was 1-for-3 with three RBIs. White was 1-for-2 with three RBIs and scored three runs. Diaz, Hurt and Jordan were each 1-for-2. Ellison Laney and Howard were both 1-for-1.
In their final game of the tournament, the Lady Red Devils beat Baldwin County 8-4. Leininger was the winning pitcher. She went four innings, allowed eight hits and four runs.
Central scored three runs in the top of the first inning to take the lead, but Baldwin County tied the game up at 3-3 in the bottom of the second.
The Lady Red Devils regained the lead in the top of the third inning, 4-3. McHargue hit a solo home run to give her team the one-run lead.
Central added three more runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 7-3 advantage over Baldwin County. Newsome reached base on a single, but was out at second when McHargue reached on a fielder’s choice. McHargue was out at third when Hardin reached base on a fielder’s choice. Diaz drove in Hardin when she doubled to right center field. Murray then slapped a home run to make the score 7-3.
After Baldwin County scored a single run in the bottom of the fifth inning, Central scored one in the top of the sixth. White singled and took second on a single by Newsome. White stole third base. She scored on an error.
Newsome led Central at the plate, going 3-for-4. White and Hardin were each 2-for-3. Murray and Diaz were each 1-for-2. Diaz had a double and Murray had a home run.
Central was scheduled to play at Tallassee on Monday. It was slated to be at home to play Beauregard on Tuesday. Today, Central will play host to Auburn at 6:30 p.m. ET. On Monday, Central will travel for a double header at Rehobeth beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET. Next Tuesday, Central will travel to play at Prattville Christian.