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    Centennial’s Mackenzie Law heads toward home plate after hitting a pinch-hit grand slam home run in the Lady Spartans’ 14-9 District 5-5A victory at Burleson Monday night. BURLESON STAR/TOMMY WHITWORTH IMAGES

Law helps Lady Spartans slam Lady Elks

Home runs have played a big role in the recent history of the softball series between Centennial and Burleson.

Last year, Centennial’s Gracie Morton’s two-run home run helped lift the Lady Spartans in an 8-7 win.

In 2017, Zoe Miranda’s grand slam played a role in the Lady Elks first win over Centennial since 2013.

Monday night, Centennial junior Mackenzie Law forged her spot in series lore with a pinch-hit grand slam home run.

Mackenzie’s blast broke open a 7-7 game in the seventh inning and sparked what became a seven-run outburst as the Lady Spartans went on to a 14-9 District 5-5A victory at Burleson.

The hit was a special one for Law, who admitted she has been struggling at the plate this season.

In fact, Law said she didn’t even expect to play Monday night much less be called on to pinch-hit with one-out in the seventh inning with the game tied.

“It was completely unexpected,” Law said. “It was pretty late in the game and I didn’t think I was going in. I thought (Coach Sullivan) was going to keep it how it was. I was actually pretty thrown off.”

Centennial coach Shannon Sullivan said she played a hunch sending Law to the plate.

“I knew she was due,” Sullivan said. “She has had a rough season so far and I knew that she had been working outside of practice as well as working hard in practice. She has the tools. She just needed the right opportunity to come out of her a bit. And she did it tonight for us.”

Law said she was looking for pitch middle in but connected on a outside pitch sending the Brailey Wasik offering over the centerfield wall.

“I knew it was a home run as soon as I hit it,” Law said. “I haven’t hit a home run in over a year and I haven’t had many base hits this season. I was ecstatic.”

The win coupled with a Centennial win at Crowley Tuesday and Burleson’s win over Everman forged a four-way tie for first place at 4-1 betwen Centennial, Burleson, Mansfield Legacy and Granbury. Centennial (7-11, 4-1) plays at Legacy Tuesday and Burleson hosts Crowley Tuesday.

The key at bat in the seventh-inning rally came from No. 9 hitter Kylie Gowin.

With one out and a runner on first, Gowin fell behind in the count 1-2. The Lady Spartans usual leadoff hitter fouled off the next three pitches before dropping a single over third base. Paris Green followed with a bunt single to load the bases for pinch hitter Law.

“I was thinking I needed to pull through right now,” Gowin said. “I was just happy to be able to pull through for my team.”

Burleson attempted a rally in the bottom of the seventh but could only manage a pair of runs off a home run by Kyleigh Rich with two-out.

The Lady Elks (12-5, 4-1) had their chances to win Monday night.

After tying the game at 7-7 in the fourth inning on a two-out, run-scoring triple by Lauren Minor, the Lady Elks loaded the bases in the fifth with one out thanks to walks to Bridgette Montes,

Wasik and Rich. But Centennial freshman pitcher Emily Gilliam got out of the jam with strikeouts of Isabella Inocencio and Logan Loggins.

“She came in and did a really good job of keeping them off-balance,” said Sullivan of Gilliam. “She had their number tonight.”

Burleson coach Summer Owen said even after falling behind 5-0 in the top of the first inning, she thought her team was going to find a way to win the game.

“We did a lot of it to ourselves,” Owen said. “We dug a hole in the first inning and then answered back. Then we got it tied and Brailey had a few shutdown innings and I thought we’d score in the sixth and finish them in the seventh. But they had a breakout seventh inning. It seems like we feel the pressure when we play them.”

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