SPRING HILL — After losing in their first game against Springstead earlier this season, Central knew how important Thursday’s Class 6A, District 6 contest was to its postseason hopes.
The Bears’ determination motivated a 4-3 win over the two-time defending district champion Eagles, surpassing Springstead in the standings.
“Central hasn’t been in this position for a long time,” Bears coach Tyson Ellis said. “There’s just no quit in these girls.”
Freshman sensation Kaeleen Koehler (complete game, nine strikeouts, one walk, three earned runs) shut down Springstead for 5 2/3 innings. With two out in the sixth, the Eagles (10-4, 5-1) finally mounted a charge.
Springstead second baseman Brittny Desmond singled, and shortstop Hailey Drawe followed with another single. Eagles pitcher Louisa Disi (complete game, 10 strikeouts, two walks, three earned runs) helped her own cause with a two-run double then was brought around on another single from catcher Brooke Fischbach.
The three-run outburst cut the lead to one. The frame ended with Koehler striking out leftfielder Morgan Selby in a nine-pitch battle.
“That was one of the biggest plays of the game,” Koehler said. “If I didn’t get her, I knew we were going to be in trouble. A lot of bad things could have happened.”
After Disi made short work of the Bears (11-4, 6-1) in the top of the seventh, Koehler opened the bottom half by surrendering a single to rightfielder Bailey Embry. However, showing resilience not many expect from a freshman, the ace followed with a strikeout of Summer Taylor, her ninth of the game.
Singles from centerfielder Shelby Ard and Desmond loaded the bases with one out for Drawe, the Eagles’ leading hitter. A single from Drawe would likely give Springstead the walkoff win, but Koehler wouldn’t back down to the senior.
Drawe (3-for-4, double, run scored) came into the game hitting .488 but was unable to make solid contact off Koehler in the at-bat. A long battle culminated in Drawe popping out to third. Koehler then dispatched Disi on a routine fly ball for the final out.
“I try not to think out there too much,” Koehler said. “I just throw.”
While Central never scored more than one run in any inning, catcher Alex Eisenhauer started things off with a leadoff double in the second. Courtesy runner Mari Goodwin came around to score on an RBI-single from centerfielder Whitney Roberts.