By Mark Clark
April showers may bring May flowers, but they did not bring a lot of wins for the Central High Lady Red Devils softball team. During the month, heading into this week’s games which will close out the regular season, the team is 2-7-1. With just two games remaining in the month – against Northview High of Dothan and Eufaula High – there is no chance to produce a winning record for the 30-day period.
Fortunately for Central, the wheels came off the cart with plenty of time remaining to get back on track for a potential run in the postseason. Central will play Smiths Station in the first round of the Area 4 Tournament to determine which teams advance to postseason play in the regional tournament in Troy.
Central will enter this week with a 23-19-1 record overall. The squad went 0-3-1 in the Hoover Invitational Tournament last weekend, losing to Beech High, Faith Academy and Gardendale High. Central played to a 3-3 tie against Lincoln High in the tournament’s opening round. Before the tournament, Central fell to Beauregard High and Prattville High.
“Win-loss records are not our focus. It’s getting better each game. While we saw plenty that we can improve upon, we also saw many positives that we can take away from last week. I like the fight the girls showed. They scored three runs in the last inning against Gardendale to make it a one-run game. We’ve talked all season to the girls about playing our best softball at the end of the season. Even though our last week did not show it, I still see it in them. I see it in their talent. I see it in their work ethic. I can feel it in the energy they bring to each game. It is just a matter of time before we get it all together. When we do, it is going to be exciting. Our goal is for it to happen the first week of May in the Area 4 Tournament. It is all going to come down to which two teams play the best over the two days of the tournament. I really believe any of the three teams in this area could qualify for the state tournament. Nothing else matters, except those two days in May Our season is going to be judged on how we play in May,” Central coach Mitchell Holt said.
Central began last week with a 9-8 loss to Beauregard. The Lady Red Devils led 8-4 as the game went into the bottom of the sixth inning. Beauregard scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth and three more in the bottom of the seventh to win.
Gracie Deaton took the pitching loss for the Lady Red Devils in relief of Brianna Murray. Kristen White was 4-for-4 at the plate and scored three runs. Shelby Newsome, Jaleigh Hardin, Kyleigh McHargue and Tatyana Harris were each 2-for-4. Hardin and Newsome both had doubles. Newsome also had a home run. Deaton was 1-for-4.
Next, the Lady Red Devils fell 14-4 to Prattville High. Deaton was the losing pitcher for Central. Nayelica Diaz was 2-for-2 with two doubles to lead Central’s hitters. White and Hurt were both 1-for-3. Hurt had a triple.
Central was down 3-0 in the game, but got four runs in the third inning to take the lead at 4-3. But, then Prattville scored six runs in the fourth inning and five in the fifth to put the game away on the mercy rule.
In the opening round of the Hoover Invitational Tournament, Lincoln scored three runs in the fifth inning to erase a 3-0 Central lead. Newsome was 1-for-1 while Hurt, Hardin, McHargue and Deaton were each 1-for-2 and White was 1-for-3 for Central at the plate.
Beech High took and early 3-1 lead and Central tied the game at 3-3 in the second inning. But, in the bottom of the second inning, Beech scored six runs to lead 9-3. Central added its final run in the third inning.
Deaton took the pitching loss. White was 2-for-2 with two runs scored. Hurt and Deaton were each 1-for-2. Deaton had a home run with two RBI.
Central fell to Faith 10-1. Faith scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning to decide the game early. The team scored four more runs in the fourth inning to lead 10-1.
Deaton was the losing pitcher in the game with Faith. Hardin, McHargue and Murray were each 1-for-2. Hardin had a home run for her team’s only run. White was 1-for-3.
In their final game of the tournament, Gardendale defeated Central 6-5. Gardendale scored twice in the first inning while Central scored once. Gardendale then scored four runs in the fourth inning to lead 6-1. Central scored a run in the bottom of the third and then scored four in the seventh to cut the margin to 6-5.
Murray took the pitching loss. Murray was 2-for-2 with a home run. White was 2-for-3. Newsome and Hardin were each 1-for-2. Newsome had a home run with three RBI. Hurt was 1-for-3.
Central was slated to play its final home game of the season this past Tuesday. Today, the Lady Red Devils will be on the road at Eufaula to end the regular season.
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