Clock strikes midnight

Ashley Evans walks back to the dugout after the game's final strikeout as Blackman players run back to celebrate in Monday night's Region 4-AAA semi-finals held in Manchester.

Much like the temperature, it was an uncommonly cold spring night for Central High School softball at the plate Monday, May 13. The Lady Raiders were held to five hits in a 2-1 home loss to Blackman in the Region 4-AAA tournament.

The loss ended the 2019 season just days after CHS claimed its second-straight district title.

"Not the way we wanted it to end," Coach Brandon McWhorter said. "These girls have worked hard. We just couldn't get it together tonight."

The Lady Blaze took the lead in the first inning. After pitcher Keri Munn opened the game with a strikeout, Kendall Andrews knocked a ball over the left field fence for a solo home run. Two at-bats later, Rachel Tarpley followed with a second homer to put Blackman up 2-0. 

"Blackman's a great hitting team. Top-to-bottom they all can hit," McWhorter said. "Pitch selection probably wasn't the greatest the first inning, cost us two home runs and that's on me."

The Lady Raiders responded in the second inning. With Gracie Pippenger on second and Justus Turner on first, Ashley Evans drilled a line drive to center field to send in Pippenger. The inning ended on the next at-bat and the girls went into the third trailing Blackman 2-1.

In the field, the girls rebounded from their first inning struggles with strong pitching and defense. Munn threw four more strikeouts from the third inning through the game's close and held Blackman to four hits in the same span.

The defensive momentum didn't carry over to the batter's box. The girls didn't have another hit until Pippenger singled in the bottom of the seventh. The game ended two at-bats later. 

"I think giving up those two home runs in the first inning kind of put us in a spot," Munn said. "But I think if we executed more then we probably could've gotten something."

CHS finished the 2019 season with a 24-10 overall record. Within the district, the girls finished 10-2.

"It was a good season, I can't say it was a great season because we had expectations higher than tonight," McWhorter said. "But it's something to build on for next year's team."

Pippenger led the way at the plate with two hits. On the mound, Munn struck out seven and surrendered six hits and two runs through all seven innings. 

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