By Mark Clark
Mitchell Holt was pleased with his team’s effort last week as it won six of seven games. He said the Central High Lady Red Devils had a “good week.” But, had the team been able to avoid the lone loss, it could have been a great week.
“Overall, it was a really good week. We went 6-1. We were able to get some younger pitchers involved. Desalynn Nesbitt and Breanna Leininger both had two wins for the week. That was important for many reasons. Not only does it allow Gracie (Deaton) to not have to carry the load, but it prepares us beyond this year. Nesbitt is a 102th grader and Leininger is in the eighth grade,” Holt said of his squad.
Holt was also pleased with his team’s hitting for the week as well. The Lady Red Devils batted .403, scored 76 runs and hit eight home runs in seven games.
“We still have room for improvement, but it is something that takes time. Our staff really likes what we see from, this group of girls. Right now, they are one unit and they play like that every game. In every game, there is a different player who is the star,” Holt said.
The team rolled over its first two opponents of the week – Opelika and Wetumpka – by outscoring these foes 35-8. After those wins, the Lady Red Devils headed to Auburn for its annual invitational tournament. In the tournament, Central won its first four games, beating Lawrence County twice, R.E. Lee and Baldwin County before a loss to Alabama Christian Academy eliminated it from the event. Central defeated Lawrence County 10-7 to start the tournament. The Lady Red Devils then beat Baldwin County 10-1 and R.E. Lee 13-1. They faced Lawrence County for the second time in the quarterfinals and won 8-7. They lost to Alabama Christian Academy 3-0 in the semifinals.
The second victory over Lawrence County was one that Holt said his team should remember. The Lady Red Devils went into the fifth inning leading 4-2 but came out of the top half of the frame down 7-4. In the bottom of the fifth, Central tied the contest at 7-7 with a two-run home run from Jaleigh Hardin and a solo blast from Kyleigh McHargue.
Using the international tiebreaker, Central won the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, but not before some defensive dramatics in the top of the inning. With a runner on second to start the inning under the tiebreaker, Lawrence County advanced the runner to third on a ground out. A fly out to center field appeared to be enough to score the runner from third, but Central’s Kristen White fired the ball to the Hardin at the plate for an inning ending double-play to keep the score at 7-7.
Central won the game when White reached base on a fielder’s choice which saw Tatyana Harris thrown out at third base. White then stole second and third bases. She scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Madison Hurt to give Central an 8-7 victory.
Deaton was the winning pitcher for Central, going the distance in the circle, allowing seven hits and striking out five. Hardin was 2-for-2 with a home run and three RBI. McHargue was 1-for-3 with her home run.
In the opening game of the tournament against Lawrence County, Shelby Newsome was 3-for-3 with three doubles, two RBI and scored three runs. Harris was 2-for-2. Nayelica Diaz was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Summer Lawrence was 2-for-3 with three RBI.
Deaton tossed a three hitter in Central’s win over Baldwin County. She allowed three hits and struck out four. Newsome was again 3-for-3. She had a triple and a home run with two RBI. Deaton was 2-for-3 with two home runs with six RBI. McKinnon Howard and Nesbitt were each 1-for-1.
Against R.E. Lee, Nesbitt was the winning pitcher as she tossed a two-hitter and struck out five. Hurt was 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBI. Lawrence was 2-for-2 with a double and a home run. Harris was also 2-for-2.
In the 3-0 loss to Alabama Christian Academy, Harris was 1-for-2 with her team’s lone hit.
Central will be on the road at Handley today and play in the Wetumpka Tournament this weekend. Next Tuesday, Central plays Smiths Station at its home field behind the Central High Freshman Academy.