On a Wednesday afternoon where nothing or no one on GPS' Lupton Field was warm, the Central Lady Pounders' defense was red-hot.
It was all about the defense as big plays were turned in on every corner of the diamond as Central earned a 4-2 victory over the Bruisers to improve their season record to 4-2. The loss was the first for GPS after two wins last week.
Most notably, Central turned three double plays in support of right-hander Chasity Ainsle, who needed them to work out of jams all day long.
“When our pitcher needed an out, she got it,” said Central coach Leanne Shurette. “Our infield defense kept us in the game with three double plays and we made catches in the outfield when we needed.”
After a so-so tournament weekend that saw them lose twice, the Lady Pounders' coach made a special request of her team.
“I asked them to be intense for the entire game,:” Shurette said. “Everyone in the lineup stayed focused. Our offense, at least it's getting there.”
The big offensive blow of the day was a two-run homer by catcher Hannah Powell in the fifth. It followed a leadoff hit by Brooke Eller and accounted for the game-winning run. That big hit was followed by an Ainsle single, and the Central pitcher scored with two out after a successful sacrifice by Alexis Grampp and a clutch RBI single from Britney Sylvester.
Slyvester also scored the Lady Pounders' first run as part of a controversial fourth inning. After reaching on a fielder's choice, she took second on an infield hit off the bat of Ally Welch, third on Lexie Ainsle's single and scored on an error. Brook Womack followed with a fly ball that looked to have scored Welch easily. But the baserunner was ruled out for leaving third base a split-second too early.
The Bruisers finally started cutting into their four-run deficit in the sixth when Katy Richardson led off with a walk and Lea Ann Jackson homered to nearly straightaway center field. An error allowed the tying run to come to the plate, but the defense rose to the occasion with Central's third double play of the game.
Ainsle also survived a hairy seventh set up by a leadoff double from Taylor Battle, but the right-hander got Jackson for the final out.
“We played pretty well,” said GPS coach Susan Crownover. “Our issue was that we left too many on base (nine). We kept battling, and we had a chance at the end.”
Womack, Eller and Welch all had two hits for Central, which has only a junior varsity tournament on the weekend schedule before spring break. GPS got two doubles from Battle and a pair of singles and a walk from Stephanie George. The Bruisers' spring break begins Thursday.
Central 000 130 0 – 4 11 1
GPS 000 002 0 – 2 7 2
Chasidy Ainsle and Hannah Powell; Swafford, Stanley (6) and Hobbs. Records: Central (4-2); GPS (2-1)