Jackson delivers late to down rival Central in softball

Thursday, September 2, 2010
Jackson catcher Katie Garner waits for the throw to tag out Central base runner Hannah Madsen at home during the third inning Wednesday in Jackson. The Indians posted their first victory of the season, a 10-5 decision. (Kristin Eberts)

Jackson and Central were neck-and-neck through the first four innings of Wednesday's softball game between the rivals.

It was all Indians from the fifth inning on.

Jackson (1-3) exploded for five runs in the fifth and received shutdown pitching over the final three innings to knock off the visiting Tigers 10-5.

"We just finally got big hits," Indians coach Amanda Forester said. "We had runners on but were stranding them early. I told the girls we have to get a big hit, and they came through with two outs."

Jackson's big hits came in the bottom half of the fifth inning.

Jackson's Brittany Jones tags out Central base runner Destiny Whitney during the second inning Wednesday in Jackson. (KRISTIN EBERTS ~ keberts@semissourian.com)

Trailing 5-4 heading into the frame, the Indians pushed across five runs on five hits and one Central (1-3) error.

Brooke Whitledge drew a walk to lead off the inning then Samantha Hadden singled with one out to put runners on the corners.

Ivie Ervin delivered.

Ervin lined a single to right to drive in Whitledge, and the ball scooted under the Tigers right fielder's glove, allowing Hadden to score from first and Ervin to take second.

But the Indians weren't finished.

Jackson players huddle before the fifth inning Wednesday.

After Megen Hobeck bunted Ervin to third, the two-out rally began.

Mollie Crader smashed a double off the center fielder's glove to plate Ervin, Demesha Huddleston brought in Crader with a double to right-center field, and Katie Garner singled home Huddleston to give the Indians a 9-5 cushion.

"That was great," Garner said. "Ivie started us off, and from there we just started rolling. It definitely got our spirits up and gave us that last little boost."

Added Central coach Amy Blattel: "They did a good job with that two-out rally, coming in and putting the ball in play. We have to hit our spots and have to tighten our defense up. You can't give teams extra opportunities."

Once the Indians earned the lead, freshman hurler Mallory Jones was lights out.

Jackson's Demesha Huddleston makes a catch in center field during the fourth inning of a game against Cape Central in Jackson on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. (Kristin Eberts)

Jones relieved Crader in the fifth inning. She allowed one run in the fifth on two walks, but retired the final seven batters she faced, getting the Tigers in order in the sixth and seventh innings.

"Coming in as a pitcher, especially a young one and to have a lead, it gives you confidence," Forester said. "She was nervous, but she's young. Both of them [Crader and Jones] pitched really well. It's still game four. We're working on how to manage a game. But being young, it's hard when you haven't had experience yet. But they're growing and you can tell it."

Garner, the Indians' catcher, was impressed with the young pitchers.

"Molly started us off great," Garner said. "Jones is young, but she was great too. I love catching both of them. They get it done."

The opening four innings saw plenty of action.

Jackson pitcher Mollie Crader covers first base to get out Central base runner Kadie Orenstein during the fifth inning Wednesday.

Jackson jumped on the Tigers for three runs in the first when Garner roped a two-run double to left-center field.

The Tigers countered in the top half of the second on Destiny Whitney's double to right-center that drove in two runners to make it 3-2.

The teams traded runs before Central tied it on Whitney's RBI double down the left-field line.

"She did a really good job," Blattel said of Whitney. "She was patient on pitches and waited to explode."

Whitney was the Tigers' lone offensive bright spot. Central was limited to four hits in the game.

Central pitcher Kadie Orenstein winds up during the second inning Wednesday. She suffered the loss in the game between rivals.

Jackson was led by Garner. The junior went 3 for 5 with four RBIs to help the Indians to their first win.

"It felt really good," Garner said. "I've been popping it up lately, so it was good to get the ball down and help boost our morale."

Added Forester: "She was good. She's been struggling lately and she'll tell you that. But it was good for her to relax. She's one of our leaders on the team and we hit a lot yesterday in practice. She felt confident coming in."

Central0211100--543
Jackson310051x--10130

WP -- Mallory Jones. LP -- Kadie Orenstein. 2B -- Katie Garner (J), Mollie Crader (J), Demesha Huddleston (J), Destiny Whitney 2 (C). Multiple hits -- Jackson: Crader 2-4, Garner 3-5, Samantha Hadden 2-3, Ivie Ervin 2-4; Central: Whitney 2-3.

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