Jackson softball team scores in seventh to dump rival Central

Thursday, August 30, 2012
Jackson’s Kayla Keith slides into third base ahead of the tag by Central’s Tatiana Reagan during the fourth inning of the Indians’ 4-3 win over the Tigers on Wednesday in Jackson. Keith later scored. (ADAM VOGLER)

Many of the Jackson and Central softball team members play together during the summer, which helps make their rivalry a friendly one.

Not that it doesn't get intense.

"They beat us in our senior game last year, and it broke our hearts," Jackson senior Brooke Whitledge said.

That's why Whitledge and the Indians were sky high Wednesday after they pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat visiting Central 4-3.

"This was payback for sure," Whitledge said. "We wanted this game more than any other game."

Jackson shortstop Brooke Whitledge fields a ground ball hit by Central’s Tatiana Reagan in the fourth inning Wednesday. Whitledge threw Reagan out at first on the play.
ADAM VOGLER
avogler@semissourian.com

Whitledge played a key role in the victory. She led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple that shot over the right fielder's head. The hit came against Central junior pitcher Kadie Orenstein, which was not insignificant.

"She's one of my best friends," said Whitledge, who plays during the summer with Orenstein. "I was nervous. ... I was just wanting to get the big hit in the game."

Orenstein struck out the next batter, but senior Kaitlyn McHughs put down a perfect squeeze bunt that sent Whitledge home with the game-ending run.

"I was just trying to win the game, get her in," McHughs said.

Whitledge had no doubt the game would be over when the bunt got down.

Jackson’s Brooke Whitledge celebrates after scoring on a walk-off bunt by Kaitlyn McHughs during the seventh inning Wednesday. (ADAM VOGLER)

"I was like, here comes my wheels. You're going to see my slow wheels," said a laughing Whitledge.

Orenstein made a nice play to field the bunt and, since her back was virtually to the plate, likely would have had no play on Whitledge.

But instead of attempting an off-balance throw home, Orenstein recorded the out at first, which didn't matter.

"I don't think she would have had a shot," Central coach Amy Blattel said. "But our infield didn't communicate."

The Indians (2-2) had missed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when they loaded the bases with nobody out but failed to score.

That came right after Central (1-3) scored two unearned runs in the top of the sixth inning without the benefit of a hit to forge a 3-3 tie.

Jackson coach Amanda Forester credited her squad's mental toughness for not letting those failures get the Indians down.

"We've been working really hard on staying up and playing a complete game," Forester said. "Leave everything on the field."

Jackson junior pitcher Mallory Jones was strong throughout, allowing one earned run and five hits. She struck out two and walked one.

"I think we came out strong and confident. We did what we needed to do," Jones said. "I just focused on my mechanics. I knew my team was behind me.

"I think we played one of our best games. This is a big confidence boost."

Orenstein was also solid, allowing three earned runs and seven hits. She struck out two and walked two.

Central committed six errors.

"We didn't do our job defensively. You can't give a team that many more attempts to put runners on base," Blattel said. "And we left too many runners on base [seven]. But all those things are correctable."

Jackson committed three errors, a big one with one out in the sixth inning that led to Central scoring twice without a hit. The Indians stranded nine on the bases.

Sophomore Mashanda Reed's RBI single in the first inning gave Central a quick 1-0 lead.

A sacrifice fly by Whitledge in the bottom of the first made it 1-1. The run was unearned.

Senior Mollie Crader's RBI double in the third inning put Jackson ahead 2-1, and junior Casey Holzum's RBI single in the fourth inning opened up a 3-1 advantage.

Sophomore Winnie Smee and senior Tatiana Reagan drove in runs on ground balls during the sixth inning as Central forged a 3-3 tie. Jackson then won in the bottom of the seventh.

"It was awesome," McHughs said. "It's always nice to beat Cape."

Whitledge had two hits. Sophomore Madison Daum paced Central with two hits.

Central1000020--356
Jackson1011001--473

WP -- Mallory Jones. LP -- Kadie Orenstein. 3B -- Brooke Whitledge (J). 2B -- Mollie Crader (J), Melanie Dockins (J). Multiple hits -- Central: Madison Daum 2-4. Jackson: Whitledge 2-3. Records -- Central 1-3, Jackson 2-2.

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