CENTRAL - Softball season is marathon, not a sprint. So, it’s only fitting that the opening game in District 4-5A play went extra innings following a 30-minute delay.
Central was able to outlast Denham Springs 5-4 in 10 innings with a walk-off single from Kylie Chauvin to seal the game Thursday night.
“It’s huge for us,” Central (7-1, 1-0 District 4-5A) coach Michelle Efferson said. “Anytime in our district that you could pull out a win, that’s special. All of us are really young and we’re kind of rebuilding our programs. I think it’s going to be a dogfight every night in our district.”
Denham Springs (6-2, 0-1) jumped out to the lead on Charleigh Parolli's one out-double, advancing on an error and scoring on a sacrifice fly from Madilynn Bulot. Pitcher Natalie Parker contributed to her own cause in the third inning when she crushed a two-run home run to dead center field for a 3-0 lead.
Central stormed back in the fourth inning with three runs to tie the game with two hits sandwiched between two errors.
Bobbie Amond reached on an error, stole second and advanced to third on an infield single from Giuliana Bossier, who also stole second. Bella Barnes brought those two runners in with a single to right, advancing to second on the throw home. A wild pitch then put her in position to score on another fielding error to tie the game.
In the next inning, Central took the lead after a two-out double from Amond was followed by a single up the middle from Bossier.
“Our kids have been in some close games already this season,” Efferson said. “We’ve had to come from behind. They know they have it in them, it’s just a matter of going and making it happen.”
The Wildcats could have done more damage in the fourth but stranded two runners. That started a trend that would continue for the next two innings to keep the hosts off the board and force the game into extras.
Life at the plate wasn’t any easier for the Yellow Jackets. After Parker’s home run in the third, Denham Springs recorded just four hits in seven innings, never more than one in any inning.
“We didn’t make adjustments at the plate after Natalie’s hit,” Denham Springs coach Leslie Efferson-Yellot said. “We did the same things over and over. As hitters, you have to adjust pitch by pitch. If you throw me an inside pitch and I get jammed, the next time I come up I need to make sure that doesn’t happen again. They didn’t have to throw us anything but a fastball. That shouldn’t happen at this level.”
However, Denham Springs tied the game after a leadoff hit by pitch and a triple from Parolli into the right field corner allowed the run to score.
Parolli, a freshman first baseman, had a breakout game in the loss, going 3-for-4 with an infield single, a double, and the RBI triple in addition to a sacrifice.
“She’s a freshman and she stepped up huge,” Efferson-Yellot said. “A lot of people think because she’s in the two hole and she’s a left-handed hitter that she can’t do much with the ball. But she’s an exceptionally talented freshman. We’re so excited that she’s playing for us.”
After three straight 1-2-3 innings from both sides, Central found life when Kamy Pruyn hit a one-out single that wrapped around third base. Aly Pourciau followed that with a soft single to left to move Pruyn into scoring position. Then Savannah Hupp hit a line drive directly at Parker to put the Wildcats in a familiar position, threatening to leave two runners on base yet again.
Chauvin ended the game with a single right up the middle to score Pruyn.
“My only thought was ‘get a base hit,’” Chauvin said. “At that point you just have to do it for your team. You can’t be selfish. You have to score like they want you to…my only thought was that Kamy got home.”
“She’s a special kid,” Efferson said of Chauvin. “She’s calm, cool, and collected all the time. That’s who she is.”