By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
A game that was very ugly for the Lady Indians for seven innings Monday turned beautiful quickly in their last at bat.
Sophomore Summer Fleeman erased the memory of the team’s nightmarish nine-error lackluster performance by lacing a walk-off two run homer over the right field fence to give Central (4-3) a dramatic 7-6 eight-inning win over Southwestern.
“The best thing about this team is it’s resilience. They will never give up, ever,” Central coach Daniel Rogers said. “They won’t quit no matter how far down they are. If they are down 10 or 15 they are going to come back.”
Southwestern took advantage of Central’s generosity early on. The Lady Warriors scored four runs on just one hit, aided by six Lady Indians errors to take a 4-0 lead in the third inning.
Meanwhile diminutive Warriors pitcher Gillian Gibson kept the Lady Indians off balance at the plate and held them hitless through the first three innings.
Central finally manufactured some runs in the fourth inning thanks to some Southwestern errors.
Kristen Spillman got things started with a walk and stolen base to open the inning.
Katie Brock struck out and was thrown out at first after the catcher dropped the ball, but Spillman scored all the way from second on the play to make it 4-1.
The Lady Indians then loaded the bases on singles by Emily Frakes and MacKenzie Wilder and Fleeman being hit by a pitch.
Frakes and pinch runner Jolee Hightower scored on back-to-back wild pitches to cut the lead to 4-3.
Wilder, who went the distance in the circle for Central, pitched out of several jams in the game, keeping her team close enough for Fleeman’s late game heroics.
She recorded back-to-back strikeouts in the fifth inning with Lady Warriors runners on second and third base to keep the score 4-3.
Spillman once again was the catalyst in getting the Lady Indians even in the bottom of the fifth inning.
She singled to center field with one out and promptly stole second and third base before scoring the tying run on a sacrifice fly to center field by Brock.
Central took its first lead of the game in the sixth inning. Fleeman drew a walk then stole second. Wilder singled to center sending Fleeman to third. She scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Morgan Elliston to put the Lady Indians up 5-4.
That lead was short-lived.
Southwestern scored another unearned run after Allie Venable reached base on a throwing error by the catcher.
Venable stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Angel Beasley, then scored on a single by Destiny Molden to tie the game at 5-5.
Southwestern took advantage of back-to-back Central errors in the eighth inning to once again regain the lead at 6-5.
But the never-say-die Lady Indians came right back to put the game away on Fleeman’s home run in the bottom of the eighth off Southwestern’s flame-throwing relief pitcher Sydney Foulman.
Rogers said the hard-throwing Foulman was what his team is used to seeing and what they hit best, unlike the slower pitchers it faced the first seven innings.
“They brought in that new pitcher which was much more to our liking. We like faster pitching,” Rogers said.
Rogers said he was happy to pick up the win, but he wasn’t happy with the sloppy play in the field and impatience at the plate.
The Lady Indians had not played in 11 days.
“We were undisciplined at the plate the entire game until then. Really it was a lack of hustle on defense too. We let routine ground balls and plays we have made all year get the best of us.
Wilder went eight innings, allowing six hits, four of which were infield singles, and three walks, while striking out eight batters.
Central returns to action today when they host Berea in a 44th district game at 6 p.m.