Over and over, after practices and during breakdowns, Central High School's softball team repeated its goal: Win the last game. Unfortunately for the Lady Purple Pounders, they will not get the chance.
A slow roller to shortstop put an end to their season as DeKalb County moved on with a 2-0 win in the Class AA sectional Friday night.
In what turned into a tightly contested pitchers' duel, the Tigerettes' Kayley Caplinger shut down the Central lineup, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out four. Meanwhile, mistakes keyed a first-inning run as Danielle Tyson reached on an error to start the game, stole second and came around to score on another error.
"I feel like we were the better ball team but made some mistakes early," said Lady Pounders coach LeeAnne Shurette. "I think we came out a little nervous, which led to those mistakes, but you can't fault them for playing hard -- for having heart."
Central stung the ball several times, but it always seemed to find a DeKalb County glove, and the offense could not get on track.
The Lady Pounders' best chance came in the fifth inning, when Britney Sylvester led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a fly ball to right field. However, Central could not muster another baserunner in the inning as Caplinger escaped the inning with a strikeout.
"We hit the ball well but couldn't find a hole," Shurette said. "I think if we had been able to get some baserunners it would have been a different game, but we couldn't get anything going."
The Tigerettes scored an insurance run in the top half of the fifth, which was plenty for Caplinger. Shauna Taylor was hit by a pitch and scampered to second when Loren Cripps reached on an error trying to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
Tyson reached for the third time with a single to load the bases, and after the Lady Pounders secured an out, pinch-runner Hanah Panter scored on a sparkling diving play by Ally Welch, who fired to first for the second out.
"We played well as a team and found a couple of holes early. We put a lot of balls in play," DeKalb County coach Danny Bond said. "They hit the ball well, but we were in the right spot. Any time you win, you're pleased."
Brooke Parrott took a tough loss in pitching a gem of her own, scattering three hits and allowing no walks and two runs, one earned, over seven innings.
Central will lose two seniors, Britney Sylvester and Chasidy Ainslie, who Shurette said have been positive leaders for a young team.
"You really want it for them because they have set such a great example," she said. "They're two great kids, who stepped up and led our team."
Contact Idris Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org