Central pitcher Chasidy Ainslie began to falter a little in the late stages of Wednesday's high school softball game at GPS. After limiting GPS to two hits and no runs through four innings, she gave up five hits over the last three innings, including LeeAnn Jackson's drive over the center-field fence in the sixth.
The two faced off again with two on and two out in the bottom of the seventh, but this time Ainslie managed to get Jackson to line out to second base and preserve the Lady Purple Pounders' 4-2 victory.
Ainslie worked around six walks on the day. One of the three times she walked Richardson was right before Jackson's blast.
Central coach LeeAnne Shurette stomached with the walks Wednesday. She may not on another day.
"We know they have good hitters," Shurette said. "We didn't want to serve it up over the plate. We wanted to keep them off balance with the changeup. I thought she did that today."
Ainslie's nibbling around the plate led to three of her four strikeouts coming on called third strikes. She managed to strand nine runners, six in scoring position, and the Lady Pounders made three double plays behind her.
"We know she's got a good curveball, and she works out there a lot," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "We tried to be aggressive with fastballs when we got them early in the count. "We left too many on base, and in scoring position. I can't argue with our at-bats, but taking some called third strikes was tough. We've got to learn the strike zone."
Central's Danielle Shadden, Ally Welch and Lexie Ainslie each had singles in the fourth inning, but only Ainslie's went to the outfield. Britney Sylvester reached on a force play after Shadden's hit and ended up scoring for the Lady Pounders on a throwing error on Ainslie's hit.
Central (5-2) added three the next inning, starting with a single by Brooke Eller followed by Hannah Powell's homer to left-center. Sylvester singled in the last run two outs later.
"A few infield hits got them started. Then she left a few balls up," Crownover said of her starting pitcher Corey Swafford. "It's only our third game. We've got time to fix some things."
Eller and Welch were each 2-for-3 for the Lady Pounders and Powell was 2-for-4.
Stephanie George was 2-for-2 for GPS (2-1) and Taylor Battle doubled leading off the first and seventh innings in her four at-bats.
"I just want us to fight each game, whoever is across from us," Shurette said. "GPS has a good team. We just need to concentrate on what we're supposed to do. I think if we can do that we can have a chance at it."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.