Trailing by one run late in the game with Wilson Hunt starter Allison Pate on the mound, Nash Central was far from where it wanted to be. The Warriors’ ace had allowed just five runs in three Big East Conference games before Friday’s game at Nash Central High School, and the Bulldogs needed to create offense in a short time.
Some good fortune and better hitting made sure Nash Central had more than enough.
The Bulldogs crossed the plate five times in the sixth inning Friday, defeating the Warriors, 6-4, and moving into a tie for first place in the league.
“You don’t want to be down against Allison, especially late in the game,” Nash Central coach Gary Smith said. “One thing about our girls is that they never quit. They know they can come back.”
Nash Central (6-5, 3-1) started the decisive inning down, 2-1, when shortstop Brittani Strickland reached first base on a dropped fly ball in the infield. Catcher Harley Winders came up next and blooped a ball just out of reach of the pitcher, shortstop and third baseman for a hit, and the Bulldogs had two runners on base without hitting the ball out of the infield.
“There’s nothing you can do about it,” Hunt coach Whitney Way said. “We have our bloop hits and they have their bloop hits, but when you see it happen, you’re just like, ‘Ugh!’”
Another error by Hunt (6-4, 3-1) loaded the bases for Taylor Mills, and the left fielder roped a ball down the left-field line for a two-RBI double. Deztanie Hill walked, then Taylor Mercer scored Mills on an RBI groundout. Sarah Keel plated Hill with a single, and the Bulldogs had created a 6-2 lead in a hurry.
The Bulldogs had no runs and one hit the first time through the batting order, but nearly everybody made a contribution late in the game.
“I think it just took us one time to go through, and then, we knew what we had to do to get a hit off (Pate),” said Nash Central pitcher Kelsee Whitley, who had a run and an RBI. “She’s a good pitcher, but we had to adjust and do well.”
Whitley allowed eight hits but was able to pitch out of trouble, keeping the Warriors to 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Whitley escaped a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the fourth with a lone run scored. Even though the Bulldogs trailed after the inning, Whitley said that gave Nash Central a boost.
“I knew we would win after that inning,” she said. “Everybody was up. We had all the momentum and we were ready to go.”
Nash Central stalled a fifth-inning rally with the help of a double play and survived two Hunt runs in the seventh to hold on for the win.
Through four conference games, everybody has a loss.
“Top to bottom, we’re all pretty equal,” Smith said. “We’re just glad to be back up at the top.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or firstname.lastname@example.org