Madison Central softball players have a running joke with coach Jonelle Csora and in order to lighten the mood before a big district game, the first-year coach played right into it.

Csora came running and jumping back to the dugout after the pre-game meeting between coaches, captains and umpires exclaiming ‘I won the toss, I won the toss’.

“I’ve tried to pump the girls up to make them think hitting first is great because we get to score first,” Csora said. “So it’s kind of like a joke on our team that, ‘Yeah, we get to hit first. We won the toss. We hit first.”

Despite playing on their home field, the Lady Indians did get to bat first against cross-county rival Madison Southern (15-8) on Friday. The game was supposed to be played in Berea, but due to rain this week the Lady Eagles field was unplayable.

And Central (16-7-1) did score first, pushing across two runs that eventually led to a 6-2 win.

Ashley Moncrief got things started with a grounder that was misplayed by Casey Boggs and then two wild pitches and a steal allowed the speedy centerfielder to score.

After Jackie Young struck out Lyndsay Jones and Krista Hardy, she walked four straight batters for the 2-0 deficit.

“We gave them the first two,” Southern coach Brian Foley said. “And that set the tone for the rest of the game.”

It remained 2-0 for the next four innings as Young and Central pitcher Whitney Hardy began to engage in a pitcher’s duel.

However, in between innings Csora kept telling her team they needed to get something going again.

“It seems like when our girls are under pressure that’s when the feel like that’s when the need to hit,” Csora said. “It seems like sometimes our girls will go six innings, two to nothing or one to nothing. But as soon as the other team starts to put a little bit of the pressure on it’s like ‘Oh, I guess we do have to go ahead and hit the ball.”

That urgency came after the fifth when Southern’s Kalin Hisle and Janie Grant each singled, but two fly outs and a line out ended the threat.

Central answered in the top of the sixth as Megan Lowery singled, setting the stage for Janna Anderson’s RBI double. Brittni Fraser singled which brought up Moncrief.

The centerfielder reached on an error that scored a run and then an error by Young scored another Lady Indian run.

The 5-0 cushion was more than enough for Hardy, even with the Lady Eagles getting their bats going.

“We only hit the ball one inning,” Foley said. “We have got to have the girls listen to the coaching staff and do what we ask.”

In their half of the sixth, Nikki Jeck started with a walk and scored on a triple by Tiffany Willis.

Paige McGuire brought in Willis with a single to left field, but Hardy worked out of the inning with a strike out and back-to-back fielder’s choice outs.

Kate Bowles started the seventh with a walk and scored the final run of the game off an error by Brook Wiseman.

Southern had five errors in the game, two by Boggs and one by Wiseman who both played third base.

“If we make the plays it’s a totally different ball game,” Foley said. “Third killed us tonight.”

Wiseman made up for the error with a double to start the seventh, but Central ended that early threat with a rare first to third double play and Rachel Moon scooped up a routine ground ball for the final out.

It’s the fifth straight win for the Lady Indians, who after starting 1-3-1 have taken 15 of their last 19 games.

“Knock on wood our defense is getting stronger and stronger,” Csora said. “There are girls in new positions this year ... and I think they are working more together as a unit. ... In the beginning of the season it was back and forth, and now it is so much different.”

Southern came in on a two-game winning streak, but Foley knows his team has got to decide that it is the best team on the field for it to put together wins like it did last year on its way to being runners-up in the 11th Region Tournament.

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