In a battle of South Region unbeatens, Centralia College was unable to keep up offensively with rival Lower Columbia College, falling 7-3 and 14-4 in a pair of Northwest Athletic Conference softball contests Monday at Fort Borst Park.
“Lower Columbia is always one of the top teams in the league so we knew they were going to be good and that they were going to come out and hit. We knew that was going to happen,” Centralia coach Katie Aden said. “The thing that was not shown today is that we have a much better offensive team than what showed up today. So I am excited to play them again.”
With bluebird skies and zephyr wind blowing from home plate to centerfield the Red Devils were well poised to take advantage of the ideal hitting conditions.
In Game 1, LCC put up three runs in the top of the first inning on a pair of homeruns. Katelyn McGough got the longball party started with a solo shot out of the second slot in the order. The next batter, Jade Behic, reached base with a single and then got to trot home when Ada Williams blasted a big fly of her own.
Centralia got most of that back in the bottom of the first inning when Nikole Schock singled, Katie Adkins doubled her home, and then Kerianne singled up the middle to bring Adkins home.
But the LCC bats were just getting warmed up.
In the top of the second frame Kaylee Barnum blasted a solo homerun to extend the lead. The third inning was a back to the basics session for the Red Devils as they used a single by Kinzey Williams, an RBI double by McGough and a sacrifice fly by Behic to extend their lead out to 6-2.
“We had a lot of doubles today just throughout the whole lineup. The ball just seemed to find a gap if you got it up in the air,” LCC coach Traci Fuller said. “We have a lot of power hitters but we also have the speed.”
Meanwhile, Behic settled into her spot in the circle and kept Centralia off balance at the plate. She finished the game with six strikeouts over seven innings while allowing seven hits and three runs.
“She struggled at first but she kind of adjusted to the umpire’s strike zone and really they struggled to hit off of her in the last few innings,” Fuller said.
Maddie Curaming helped to keep the Trailblazers bats on the bench by putting together a highlight reel in left field beneath the swirling winds that rise up off of the Chehalis River just beyond the Fort Borst Park tree line. In the third inning she even managed to record all three outs herself.
After posting two runs in the first inning Centralia was only able to add one more run to their side of the scoreboard. That run came in the sixth inning when Cline singled, Hailey Sneddon singled and then Madisyn Estes scored Cline on a sacrifice fly.
By that time, though, LCC had already added one more run to their cushion in the top of the sixth inning when Karsyn Zaragoza singled to set up an RBI single by McGough later in the inning.
Fuller singled out McGough as the Red Devils most dangerous club in the lineup on Monday.
“She’s the big bat out there,” Fuller said. “I think she’s leading our team in RBIs. She gets the job done. I mean, she hits the ball hard, consistently.”
In Game 2 the Red Devils continued to put on a hitting display with 14 hits that scored 14 runs on the way to a ten-run win that was abbreviated by the mercy rule. Kinzey Williams was a big part of that output from the leadoff spot with two runs scored, a pair of hits and an RBI.
“She’s tough whenever she puts the ball in play so she usually starts us off,” Fuller said.
A six-run outburst in the top of the first inning set the tone for the nightcap and gave starting pitcher Tatum Guzman plenty of room to breathe. Tatum would go on to allow three runs over four innings of work while striking out four Blazers.
“I told her to tell her teammates thank you for giving her all those runs before she even went out there,” Fuller said.
Mallory Brown closed the game out for LCC in the circle and Brittnee Harvill took care of the day’s catching duties.
“Brittnee Harvill called the game. She did amazing back there,” Fuller said.
But the Blazers bats weren’t completely dead in Game 2. Casey Wentz had a double in the first inning and scored a run later in the game. Cline blasted a two-run home run in the third inning and Grace Hodel managed to put a ball up in the jet stream and over the outfield fence in the fourth inning. Katelyn Redmill also had a pair of hits and scored a run for the home team.
“They definitely had some pop off their bat,” Fuller said of Centralia. “A few of our pitchers who haven’t been hit very hard before had some rockets coming off their bats today.”
McGough added three hits, including an RBI double, and three runs in the win while Behic was 4-for-4 with two doubles, four runs scored, and a pair of RBIs. Barnum chipped in a pair of doubles, an RBI, and two runs, while Brown and Curaming each added multiple hits and RBIs to the winning tally.
With only nine players on their roster the Blazers find themselves in a precarious situation early in the season.
“It’s a struggle with that few of players, but the girls have really done a great job of coming together and just pushing through and hoping nobody gets hurt so we can actually play a season,” Aden said.
In the stead of roster depth, Centralia is relying on leadership and fortitude to glue over the gaps. So far, Aden says that Cline and Wentz have stepped up to provide the accountability that a shorthanded squad so desperately needs.
“Coming into this game we knew that this was going to be one of our tougher competitions so it was probably going to give us a read of how the rest of this is going to go for us,” Aden said. “We’ve got some work to do.”
Centralia (2-2) travels to Pierce on Wednesday for a twinbill starting at 3 p.m.
Lower Columbia vs. Centralia College
RED DEVILS 7, TRAILBLAZERS 3
LCC 301 201 0 — 7 10 1
Centralia 200 001 0 — 3 7 1
Batteries: LCC — Behic and Harvill. CC — Bryant, Adkins and Hodel.
RED DEVILS 14, TRAILBLAZERS 4
LCC 615 52X X — 14 14 0
Centralia 012 10X X — 4 7 4
Batteries: LCC — Guzman, Brown (5) and Harvill. CC — Sneddon, Bryant and Hodel.