Up until a few weeks ago, the answer to Nash Central senior Deja Pemberton’s improvement at the plate was sitting in the storage shed next to the team’s dugout.
Pemberton recently has been practicing with an older bat that isn’t any lighter or heavier than the one she was using, and Thursday night she put her new tool to great use.
Pemberton lined a single to left field that scored fellow senior Brittani Strickland from second base to help Nash Central edge Northern Nash, 6-5, at Nash Central High School.
It was the second – and more important – of Pemberton’s singles, helping the Bulldogs (8-7, 5-3 Big East Conference) defeat their neighborhood rival and hold on to second place in the Big East.
“I was thinking, ‘I have to get this hit to get Brittani home so we can end this game,’” said Pemberton, one of six seniors honored before the game.
Pemberton’s hit was dramatic and perhaps came with more theater than Nash Central could ever have wanted. The Bulldogs blew a four-run lead before Strickland drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the seventh.
She advanced to second when Harley Winders was hit by a pitch.
Kelsee Whitley struck out swinging, leaving Pemberton as the Bulldogs’ final hope before the possibility of extra innings.
“She shortened up her swing and had a nice lined shot over the shortstop,” Bulldogs coach Gary Smith said. “There was no chance (assistant coach Jim Laviner) was was going to hold Brittani.”
Northern Nash, which easily defeated Nash Central, 7-2, on April 1, fell into an early deficit.
Just two nights after losing to Southern Nash, 15-5, in five innings, Northern Nash allowed four unearned runs in the first inning thanks to a pair of errors and a wild pitch.
The Knights (6-8, 3-5) trailed, 5-1, entering the sixth inning before sending nine batters to the plate to even the score.
Nash Central committed a pair of errors in the inning to aid Northern Nash.
“We can’t play like we did the other night and like we did in the first inning (Thursday) and win,” Knights coach Greg Tharrington said. “They have to be ready on every play and every at-bat.”
The league’s seedings are still up for grabs entering the final week.
Thursday’s rivarly game was an indication of the back-and-forth nature of the Big East.
“We made mistakes, but we had to call down and get ourselves together so we could finish the game,” Strickland said.
Nash Central 6
Northern Nash 5
NN 000 104 0 – 5 11 3
NC 400 100 1 – 6 5 2
WP: Kelsee Whitley (7IP, 5R, 4ER, 11H, 1BB, 4K); LP: Shelby Godwin (6 2-3IP, 6R, 2ER, 5H, 3BB, 9K).
2B: Brittani Strickland (NC); Sarah Keel (NC); Madison Lamprecht (NN).
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org