The Centralia varsity softball team went up by three runs in the first inning at Mexico on Tuesday before its hosts came back to tie the game in the third.
The Lady Panthers then swiped the lead back at 4-3 in the fourth and even extended it to 6-4 in the sixth before a close play in the bottom of the seventh allowed Mexico to deadlock the score once again at 6-6, which ignited a five-run explosion in the eighth that allowed the Lady Panthers to win 11-7.
"Mexico was putting the ball in play. They hit the ball hard," said Centralia coach Jill Angell. "We made too many mistakes the past two games. Routine plays where I feel like we should get kids out, but instead we bobbled the ball. Mexico did a really good job at the plate, but we didn't do such a good job fielding the ball and making the plays."
It was the bottom of the third when Taylor Sherrow led off by reaching base on an error for the Lady Bulldogs and then scored on a double to leftfield by Aaryn Sampo, who also took third on the throw. After Reghan Smith was called out, Paytience-Lawson-Holman then walked to put runners on first and third, an opportunity Hayley Mills turned into a RBI fielders choice that Logan Blevins followed with a single to centerfield that tied the game at 3-3.
"Looking back, out of Centralia's first six-runs of the game, probably four or five of them came with two outs, so you've got to give them credit. Centralia found ways to put the bat on the ball. Early on that was a big difference," said Mexico coach Keith Louder.
Centralia's next moves were to add runs in the fourth and sixth inning to move back into the lead at 6-4 heading into the top of the seventh. When those three outs came and went without a change to the scoreboard, Blevins led off for Mexico by grounding out to first base, Mattie Roth single to centerfield and Abbey Oetting was safe on an error.
"I don't know if individually I'd point to any one player standing out, but the team as a group battled and fought back. I definitely have to give credit to Mackenzie Davis. It was a crazy situation in the seventh and she was the runner on third base," Louder said. "Centralia thought they had a double play to finish the game and she made a real nice play by heading home before Centralia knew what was happening and got the tying run across. She never gave up on the play."
When Raigan Playter drew a walk in the very next at-bat, that loaded the bases with one out for Sherrow, who grounded to the second baseman. While the Centralia infielder did her part by tagging out the runner headed to second and throwing to first base to get the double play, the umpire made a call that was quickly corrected when it was decided the first baseman took her foot off the bag. Because of the confusion surrounding the call, Mexico scored twice on the play to make it a 6-6 game.
"I apologized to my kids. I thought the official made a double play call. The game was over. I came out. That's why my kids were coming off the field," Angell said. "They saw me coming out so they dropped everything. That when I realized the officials were saying no, she was safe. As much as anything, that's my fault. I misunderstood the call. They said the first baseman's foot came off the bag on the throw."
The eighth proved to be more of a formality as the Lady Panthers reeled off five quick runs on RBI by Courtney Luedloff, Jaymi Freemna, Kellyn Vega, Carter Simkins and Sadie Owens. Gwendolyn Bostick also kept up her terrific performance in the circle by charting those final three outs while giving up just one more run.
"I don't think you can discount this group of kids. We've said the same thing the past couple years and that's what we just talked about," said Angell. "They know how to win and don't like to lose. I think it came down to that. I don't think they knew what the score was until it was 6-6. That's when they realized we were in danger. Gwendolyn also did a really good job pitching. She and our catcher Kelly Vega do a great job of moving locations around and keeping hitters off balance."
Mexico, 6-3 overall, hosts Fulton on Thursday after traveling to Boonville on Wednesday.
Centralia, 5-0 overall, hosts Brookfield on Sept. 7.