A game tied at the bottom of the seventh, a slap by Lynsie Curtis, a score by Mary Kate Bennett – all set up by a sixth-inning tie-breaker homer over the center field fence by Gwen Bostick – that is how Centralia’s Lady Panthers beat the visiting Mexico Bulldogs tonight at Bicentennial Park
“Mary Kate’s at bat, Gwen’s home run to tie it, the double play that we had late in the game, gosh we had a lot, but those were the top three,” Centralia Head Softball Coach Kendra Moore said when asked what Centralia’s key moments of the game were. “They definitely helped spark momentum.”
Bostick, Centralia’s pitcher, led the team at the plate with three hits, one homer, and one RBI. From the mound, she struck out six, walked one, gave up four hits and three runs.
“She did a great job using her change of to keep them off balance,” Murphy said of Bostick’s pitching. “She threw a lot of drop balls outside and early in the game she used the rise ball and they were swinging at it.”
Centralia took the lead early, when Kalin Finaly, courtesy running for Bostick who had singled scored off an Ella Holiman fly in the bottom of the first.
Mexico took over the game with a three-run fourth inning, but Centralia kept within striking distance when Bennett drove Finaly in with a double. Then Bostick tied it in the sixth.
Going In to the bottom of the seventh, with the game tied 3-3. She said she let her batters fill their normal roles instead of forcing them into an alternate strategy.
“With Mary Kate leading off, we obviously wanted her to have a good at bat,” Murphy said of Centralia’s final at-bat. “She had solid contact twice before. We just wanted her to do what she does, get a good solid hit and get on.”
Bennett was hit by the fourth pitch and took first base.
“With Anna Romine coming to the plate, that‘s her game, to put it in play,” Murphy said.
Romine singled a bunt, driving Bennett to second.
“We had a lot of slappers in the order and that’s what we’re always looking to do with the slappers, put it in play and beat out a throw.
Olivia Hombs was next at bat. She bunted into a double play, taking Romine off the diamond, but leaving Bennett at second.
Carter Hawkins was next, Mexico pitcher Paytience Lawson-Holman hit her with the second pitch.
Next, Scarlett Fox stepped to the plate and pounded the first pitch into a grounder double past Mexico’s shortstop, pushing Bennet to third.
Then came Curtis.
The first pitch was a strike, the next a foul, the next a ball. Then she drove pitch number four past Mexico’s left fielder. As the ball sizzled out, Bennett charged down the base line, thundering over home plate to win the game for Centralia.
Mexico Head Coach Keith Louder said the last inning was not a typical one for the now 5-2 Lady Bulldogs, especially for Lawson-Holman. “All in all, she threw the kind of game she usually throws. That last inning, hitting a couple of batters, that is unlike her completely, that part of it was out of character.”
He credited Centralia for a strong performance. “Centralia put the ball in play, a lot of two-strike contact that was too solid for two strikes. All-in-all we got the game we expected from them.”
Bostick’s performance also made an impression. “A great job at the plate as far as contact, she got things going. Their first three runs were scored because she got an inning started for them. With some kind of hit. That was big. There were also a lot of players that came up with clutch performances when they needed them.”
“So far, the three home games we won, have been, there’s lots and lots of energy when we play at home,” Murphy said when asked how the team is growing. “They feed off the people in the stands, they bring it from the dugout because they want to put on a show for the crowd… The biggest challenge is going to be taking that same momentum, that same enthusiasm on the road. That’s what we hope to do for the rest of the week. The enthusiasm is a huge part of that.”