It’s no secret that Central and Red Bank are the best two softball teams in District 6-AA, so their regular-season game at Central Thursday afternoon was of critical importance to both teams.
Both entered this latest game unbeaten in district play, so Thursday’s winner would most likely earn the number-one seed for the district tournament, which will be played at Hixson in a few weeks.
That honor goes to the Lady Purple Pounders after they scored three runs late to secure the 3-0 victory over the Lionettes.
Central improves to 17-7 overall and 4-0 in 6-AA while Red Bank is now 14-6 overall and 3-1 in 6-AA.
What it turned out to be was a real pitcher’s dual between Central senior Brooke Parrott and Red Bank junior Hannah Wood. Both pitched remarkably well and both probably deserved to head home with a win, but Wood came out on the short end of the stick when the Lionette defense faltered and allowed all three runs to score in the bottom of the sixth in a tight game where both pitchers had allowed just two hits.
“Hannah Wood really threw it well today and Red Bank is a good-hitting team, but Brooke kept us in it with her pitching and then eventually scored what turned out to be the winning run,” said Central coach LeeAnne Shurette after the final out had been recorded.
“I felt like if she could get on base and get to second in the sixth, we had a good shot of winning. That turned out to be the case and we took advantage of a few mistakes they made,” the Central leader added.
Parrott led off the Central half of the sixth by reaching on an infield throwing error before stealing second. Keri Sylvester then ripped the first pitch up the middle as Parrott scored without a throw.
Mikayla Gill then reached third on Red Bank’s second error of the inning as courtesy runner Shayla Henderson scored to make it 2-0. While Kayla Henderson reached on a fielder’s choice to drive in Gill.
Those three runs were more than enough for Parrott, who started the game with nine straight strikeouts and finished with 14.
Red Bank’s best chance to score came in the fourth inning when the Lionettes loaded the bases but were unable to cross the plate.
Destiny Painter led off with a sharp single to left while Wood reached on an infield boot. Kendall Farr singled to load the sacks with two outs, but Parrott got a grounder to short to end that threat.
Wood got hit by a pitch with two outs in the sixth and Sami Shrader reached on a Central error, but Parrott again escaped with another grounder to Janara Smith at short.
Red Bank had one final shot in the seventh after Central had taken the lead, but the Lionettes were retired in order to end the game.
Tatum Morgan, the only other senior on Central’s team besides Parrott, made a nice defensive play on the second out and stretched behind the bag to grab the ball that had bounced away. Parrott then got Hanna Land on a fly to center to end the game.
Red Bank coach Mandi Munn was quick to praise the work of Parrott, who can personally dominate her game from the pitching circle.
“You’ve got to give her credit as she did her job, but we were able to make some adjustments at the plate after she struck everyone in our lineup out the first time through. That one bad inning came back to bite us,” Munn said.
“Hannah Wood pitched well enough to win and did a great job, but we let her down with our defense. When it rains, it pours, but that situation just kind of snowballed on us. We had some opportunities and didn’t take advantage, but these games are just practice until tournament time,” Munn added.
Parrott was smiling when the final out had been recorded.
“I’m just glad that we won as we finally scored some runs when we had to have them. We’ve had a slow week, but I came out and threw for a while yesterday to make sure all my pitches were working, but this was a big game and I just knew from the beginning that we would win,” the 18-year-old blonde said with confidence.
And what about the fourth inning when the Lionettes loaded the bases?
“I was determined to not let them score at that point. I was hoping to get another strikeout, but got a grounder to short that worked just as well,” she nodded.
Painter and Farr had the only two hits for Red Bank while Parrott and Sylvester had the only two for Central.
While Parrott had 14 strikeouts and no walks while allowing two hits and hitting one batter for the win, Wood suffered the loss after giving up two hits and two walks while striking out four. All three of the runs she allowed were unearned.
RED BANK 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
CENTRAL 000 003 x – 3 2 2
Wood and Romans; Parrott and Sylvester.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)