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Central softball team makes short work of Notre Dame's spell
It had been quite a few years since Central beat Cape Girardeau rival Notre Dame on the softball diamond.
So the Tigers weren't about to apologize for Thursday's 2-1 home victory in a game that lasted just 4 1/2 innings due to lightning and a tornado warning that eventually gave way to heavy rain.
"I'm just glad we won," said Central senior third baseman Tatiana Reagan, who scored what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the fourth inning. "It's just great to beat them."
Especially after the Tigers narrowly missed pulling off the feat last year against the perennial state powerhouse Bulldogs. Central led by a run entering the final inning before Notre Dame rallied.
"We had a tough loss last year. We really wanted to win this game," Central junior pitcher Kadie Orenstein said. "We weren't about to let the weather affect us."
The Tigers snapped a four-game losing streak that featured two one-run defeats in the past week to improve to 2-4.
"It is nice to pull one of these out," Central coach Amy Blattel said. "We have been in every game we've played. We've just been one or two hits shy. Today we got a couple of key hits."
Central had just four hits, but one of the bigger blows was a one-out double by Reagan in the fourth inning. She stole third and, with two outs, scored on a wild pitch to break a 1-1 tie.
"She's aggressive on the bases," Blattel said. "When we get her on it's a plus."
Orenstein ran into trouble in the top of the fifth inning. Little did the Tigers know at the time that it would be imperative she hold Notre Dame off the scoreboard.
The Bulldogs placed runners on second and third with one out, but Reagan gunned down the tying run at the plate after fielding a ground ball.
Another ground ball to Reagan ended the inning and, as it turned out, the game.
The teams never took the field for the bottom of the fifth after lightning was sighted.
The plan was to resume play following a mandatory 30-minute delay, but lightning was followed by the tornado warning and the remainder of the contest was cancelled.
A total of 4 1/2 innings is required for an official game when the home squad is ahead, meaning the Tigers barely beat the weather.
"We wanted to keep playing," Blattel said. "But safety first."
Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett, whose squad returned just one starter from last year's 26-2 team that won its eighth consecutive district title, had no complaints.
"We had our chances," said Graviett, whose squad fell to 6-2 after having a six-game winning streak snapped. "We just couldn't get the big hit.
"Give Central credit. We would have liked to play it out, but they got the better of us today."
Notre Dame, which starts just two seniors, scored its only run in the first inning. It was unearned, but two strong defensive plays by the Tigers likely prevented more damage.
Central sophomore shortstop Mashanda Reed made a diving catch to retire the leadoff batter. Reagan later snared a hot smash and recorded the out.
The Bulldogs' run came after junior shortstop Tiffany Woods had her one-out fly ball to left field dropped for a three-base error. Junior left fielder Kacey Landewee delivered a two-out RBI double.
"Defensively, we might have made some mistakes, but when we needed to make plays we did," said Blattel, whose squad committed three errors.
Central sophomore center fielder Madison Daum went a long way to track down a fly ball, and sophomore catcher Sarah Kitchen threw out a runner attempting to steal. The Tigers also recorded an out at the plate on a squeeze play.
"We played awesome all around," Orenstein said. "We came out ready to go today."
The Tigers, who also start only two seniors, tied the score in the third inning. Senior second baseman Bailey Kratochvil led off with a single and came around on Orenstein's double.
Central broke the deadlock in the fourth inning.
Orenstein allowed five hits over five innings. She struck out two and walked one.
"She had us beat last year," Graviett said. "We knew she was capable on the mound."
Sophomore Nikki Peters took the loss, allowing four hits over four innings. She struck out five and walked four. Three of the free passes came in the opening frame when she escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam.
"She battled. She kept us in the game," Graviett said.
The Bulldogs will have a chance to avenge the loss later in the season when the teams play at Notre Dame. The squads also could meet in the Jackson tournament.
Until then, the Tigers will savor their rare victory over the Bulldogs.
"Notre Dame has a very good team," Blattel said. "We're excited to get the win."
WP -- Kadie Orenstein. LP -- Nikki Peters. 2B -- Kacey Landewee (ND), Madison Buelow (ND), Orenstein (C), Sarah Kitchen (C), Tatiana Reagan (C). Records -- Notre Dame 6-2, Central 2-4.