CENTRAL – Given the complexion of the game the last time Central and Live Oak met, it was easy to understand why the Lady Eagles’ three-run lead through 2 ½ innings wasn’t going to hold up.
It was two weeks ago when the Lady Eagles staged a dramatic comeback, rallying from a four-run deficit in the seventh and two-run margin in the eighth for a 17-16 victory.
Apparently, the Lady Wildcats had a long memory.
Central battled from a three-run deficit, putting together an offensive displayed that included 14 hits – five for extra bases - and the Lady Wildcats bunched all of their runs in the middle portion of Thursday’s game for a 9-6 victory in District 4-5A play.
“These were similar teams,” Live Oak coach Michelle Morris said. “We knew they would be out for blood after the last game. I thought we played a respectable game.”
Home runs from Brett Leiva – her team-leading 10th of the year -and another from pitcher Sophia Foster – were part of a 4-2 lead for Live Oak.
The only problem for the Lady Eagles (13-11, 2-4 in 4-5A) that both home runs were solo shots. They finished with a total of five hits led by Shaun Leiva’s 2-for-4 showing against Central’s winning pitcher Mary Fralick, who stranded two base runners the rest of the way after Live Oak left the bases loaded in the first inning.
“The key was taking Brett Leiva out of the offense,” Central coach Michelle Efferson said. “We didn’t walk her early and caught a break when she hit one to the fence. The next time we didn’t catch a break and she hit one out. She’s a good enough player to beat you and we didn’t want to let the momentum swing.”
Central (16-6, 4-2) scored twice in the third and took a 6-4 lead with four runs on five hits in the fourth inning.
Bobbie Amond tied the game with an RBI-single and Kamey Pruyn (3-for-4, 2 RBIs) followed with a 2-run single, both hits taking place after two were out.
“That was a game-changing moment when we got two outs and we couldn’t get the third to keep them from scoring,” Morris said.
Live Oak got a run back in the fifth when courtesy runner Hailey Hughes scored on an error, but Central added two more in the fifth – once again doing so with two outs – to make it 8-5 on Savannah Hupp’s 2-run triple to right-center.
The Lady Eagles scored once in the seventh on Katie Vandermark’s run-scoring groundout but after a second intentional walk to Leiva, Fralik ended the game with consecutive ground outs.
Live Oak’s Sophia Foster took the loss. She allowed 14 hits, nine earned runs, with two walks and two strikeouts.
“We have to be more effective pitching in the middle of the game,” Morris said, “and be more instrumental with the bats in the middle of the game.”