Central High School softball returned to Shelbyville Wednesday, May 8, with a chance to clinch the District 8-AAA title. Taking on Lincoln County, the girls kept ahead in a tight match to win 7-5 and secure the tournament for the second straight season.
The win also earned them a spot in the Region 4-AAA Tournament.
"It was an exciting game. We had ups and downs and fan interaction," Coach Brandon McWhorter said. "Everything a championship softball game is supposed to be about. Very excited for the girls."
The girls were able to overcome various defensive mistakes throughout the game with a solid offensive night that included two home runs. Even with a slightly above average four errors, the Lady Raider fielders never let Lincoln County take the lead.
"I think we just needed to calm down and relax. Lincoln County's coming off an emotional win the game before," McWhorter explained. "Once we had the two-point lead in the seventh I think the girls understood that this is our game."
CHS jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning when Katie Rutledge came in on a sacrifice fly from Sarah West.
Still fresh off an extra-inning win earlier in the evening, the Lady Falcons tied it at 1-1 in the top of third when Anna Marie Thornton sent in Kylie Hunter on a line drive.
Rutledge came back for more in the bottom of the inning. After connecting for a double, Rutledge stole third base and came home on a ground out from Kiya Ferrell. CHS held a 2-1 lead until Lincoln County tied it again in the top of the fifth when Hunter scored again.
Just like the third inning, the girls didn't let it stay tied for long. With Ashley Evans on second base, Ferrell knocked a bomb over the left field fence for a two-run homer.
"I was really excited because the game was tied," Ferrell said. "We just led off a great inning there to start to get some runs on the board."
On the next at-bat, West followed up with another shot out of the park for back-to-back home runs. This was West's second home run in as many games and gave the Lady Raiders a 5-2 lead.
"I really wasn't going for it," West said. "Just a base hit I guess."
Lincoln County wasn't ready to throw in the towel yet. On the first pitch of the sixth inning, Mollie Gordon hit her own home run to tighten the lead to 5-3. Later in the inning, Hunter and McKenzie Swinford followed on a line drive from Sarah Koonce to tie it again.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Evans doubled on a fly ball out to left. On the next at-bat, Rutledge sent Evans in for the go-ahead run on a grounder to third base. Ferrell proceeded to drive in Rutledge for an insurance run and put CHS up 7-5.
The Lady Raiders didn't allow Lincoln County to get on base in the seventh and captured the title.
The team finished with nine hits, two each from Rutledge, Ferrell and Evans. On the mound, Keri Munn pitched through all seven innings, threw two strikeouts and surrendered nine hits and five runs.