Lady Spartans fight but come up short
MANSFIELD - With tears welling up in her eyes, Centennial softball coach Shannon Sullivan summed up her team’s effort in its best-of-three playoff series with Mansfield Lake Ridge succinctly.
“These kids never gave up,” Sullivan said. “They never gave up.”
The Lady Spartans’ fans were lined up waiting for the squad after an 11-5 Game Two loss Friday night at Lake Ridge that halted Centennial season in the Class 5A Region II quarterfinals.
Centennial, the co-champions of District 9-5A, finished the season with a record of 18-12. The Lady Spartans lost at Centennial Thursday night, 4-3, in a nail-biter.
It marked the third time the Lady Spartans have fallen in the regional quarterfinals. Aledo and Canyon ended Centennial’s season in the quarterfinals in 2013 and 2016 respectively with sweeps.
The loss also ended the Centennial careers of three seniors - centerfielder Gracie Morton, shortstop Reagan Ellison and catcher Mac Harshbarger.
Lake Ridge (21-5) scored early and often Friday night. The Lady Spartans kept fighting but could never get closer than three runs after the first inning.
The Lady Spartans jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Karter Hill’s single down the third base line scored Kylee Gowin, who had singled to lead-off the game.
The lead didn’t last long as Lake Ridge’s Rosalez hit a home run to open the inning. Then with two-out, the Lady Eagles strung together four hits to add three runs and take a 4-1 lead. Lake Ridge scored a lone run in the second inning for a 5-1 lead.
In the third inning, Centennial cut the advantage to 5-2 when Morton hit a two-out double and scored on a Ellison double.
As they did most of the night, the Lady Eagles responded to a Centennial run with multiple runs. In the bottom of the third, Lake Ridge scored three times to take an 8-2 lead.
The Lady Spartans scored once in the fourth when Mackenzie Law doubled and came home on a single by Harshbarger.
Trailing 10-3, Centennial made one last run at the Lady Eagles in the sixth inning. After Sam Barker singled and Law doubled to put runners at second and third,
Harshbarger singled to score pinch runner Brooke Stacy. Madison Thurman followed with an RBI-single that chopped the lead to 10-5.
With two out, Morton walked to load the bases but Lake Ridge reliever Chloe Jones induced a ground out from Ellison to end the inning.
The Lady Spartans went down in order in the seventh to end the game.
Lady Spartans fall at home
The opportunities were there Thursday night for Centennial in Game One with Lake Ridge.
Trailing 3-0 the Lady Spartans rallied to tie the game in the fifth inning but couldn’t push across another run as they fell to the Lady Eagles, 3-1, at Centennial.
Lake Ridge took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI-single by Maddie Munoz. The Eagles went up 3-0 in the third inning when they parlayed an error and a singled into two runs on Rosalez’s two-run single to right field.
Centennial chipped away at the lead in the fourth inning when Ellison reached on a lead-off bunt single and scored on a two-out single down the third base line.
The threat ended with a runner being thrown out at home.
In the fifth inning, Casey Hendrixson singled with two out and scored when Morton belted a home run over the left field wall.
The lead didn’t last long as Rosalez hit a lead-off triple to right to open the sixth inning and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Emily Olguin.
In the sixth inning, Centennial threatened thanks to back-to-back errors with one out. But the Lady Eagles threw out a runner trying to take third base and got a pop out to quell the threat. Morton walked with two-out in the seventh but the Lady Spartans couldn’t bring her home.