CENTERVILLE, Ind. – In a game with more twists and turns then a movie thriller, Centerville sophomore Madison Clark had the last big play, a game-winning single down the left field line, and the host ’Dogs stayed unbeaten in Tri-Eastern Conference varsity softball with a 7-6 squeaker over hard-luck Hagerstown Wednesday night.
The dramatic win moved Centerville to 3-0 in the conference, while dropping the Tigers to 1-2 in the TEC, both one-run road losses to Union County, and now Centerville.
Both teams held and lost leads in the game, and the ’Dogs lost the lead twice, but in the end, three singles scored the game-winner, and here’s how it happened.
Kaylin Smith singled to center to start the last of the seventh. She had hit a solo home run in the first inning to put Centerville up 1-0.
Then Savana Kates grounded into a force out at second base on the last of a series of close calls throughout the game. Lauren Honkomp, who had pitched all seven innings, but had not yet batted, came up to the plate with a 0-1 count, and lined a hit to left field to put runners on first and second with just one out.
A pop-up to second recorded the second out before Clark laced a ball down the left field line and Kates rounded third base and slid into home plate for the run that won the game.
Although both teams now stand 5-4, versus strong non-conference schedules, it is Centerville still right in the middle of the conference title chase.
For Clark, it was a simple goal when she stepped to the plate with the winning run on second base.
“I was just looking for a base hit, and I followed through on my swing and was able to pull it down the line,” Clark said of the team’s 11th, and biggest, hit of the night.
“I have a great team, the runners were on base, and I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Coach Avon Miller was pleased with how his team competed after falling behind 5-1 when Hagerstown scored five times in the top of the third inning.
“This was a good game, a great win for our team,” Miller said. “They (Hagerstown) brought a great game tonight (Wednesday), but I was proud of the girls that they kept their spirits up and kept battling. This is our second come-from-behind TEC win and it shows the tenacity of our team.”
The Tigers had scored two runs on a double by Megan Johnson, another on a pop single from Brytni Dale, then freshman third baseman Taylor Kelley blasted a two-run homer, all off Bulldog ace Lauren Honkomp, to take the four-run lead.
But while Honkomp proceeded to regroup and keep the Tigers off the scoreboard during the next three innings, her team chipped away on offense.
A long drive by Kates resulted in a Centerville run in the last of the third, then Bulldog shortstop Amanda Wilson cracked a two-run home run, the third of the game, in the bottom of the fourth inning to make it just 5-4 Tigers.
Then in the last of the sixth inning, with two outs and runners on first and second, a long fly ball to left center field fell between Tiger outfielders and the tying and go-ahead runs crossed to give the home team a short-lived 6-5 advantage.
But a series of unusual plays, including a passed ball on a strikeout, two errors, and a fielders choice on a squeeze bunt play resulted in a tying run for Hagerstown.
It could have been worse for the ’Dogs, however, as Honkomp bowed her neck with the bases loaded and one out, and retired Lacee Dale and Gabby Willis without the go-ahead run crossing, setting up the dramatic bottom of the seventh inning. Willis had reached in her prior four plate appearances, with two hits, a walk, and reaching on an error.
For Centerville, Clark’s game-winning single was her third straight hit, as she had doubled and rode home on Wilson’s homer in the fourth inning, then singled before the Wilson two-run double fell in deep left center in the last of the sixth.
It was another very tough loss for Hagerstown and head varsity coach Kevin Rogers.
“These are just kids, you know, they are out there giving all they have, and they fought hard, just couldn’t make the defensive plays that we needed to in order to win this game,” said a far-from-discouraged Rogers. “We just have to keep playing, you know we have a game yet tonight (Thursday) at Tri, and they are an up-and-coming program that is getting better, so we have to be ready in any conference game, because all of the conference games are tough games.”
Centerville is right back in TEC play this Friday, hosting defending conference champion Lincoln and senior ace hurler Sydney Griffin.
BULLDOGS 7, TIGERS 6
Hagerstown 005 000 1 – 6 7 2
Centerville 101 202 1 – 7 11 6
Batteries – H, B. Dale (LP) and Johnson. C, Honkomp (WP) and Cox. 2B – H, 1 (Johnson), C, 4 (Troutwine, Clark, Kates, Wilson). HR – H, 1 (Kelley), C, 2 (Smith, Wilson). LOB – H 11, C 5.