Centralia showed why it is the defending Class 2 state champion with a come-from-behind 12-6 win over Palmyra.
Palmyra softball coach Jill Arch saw the team she wants her Lady Panthers to become Thursday night.
Unfortunately it just happened to be the visiting team at Flower City Park.
Centralia showed why it is the defending Class 2 state champion with a come-from-behind 12-6 win over the Lady Panthers.
With the win, Centralia improved to 18-6 on the season and claimed the Clarence Cannon Conference championship, as both teams entered the game unblemished in league play.
“Overall, I am happy with the girls tonight,” Arch said. “Centralia is a tough team. They have eight seniors, they have great leaders who have all been there, done that. We have not been there yet.”
After Centralia jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Palmyra bounced back with two in the home half of the inning.
Brooke Wilson hit a hard smash to third base that was too hot to handle as she reached first and Bailey Lovelace scored on the play. Morgan Ingram, who ended the top of the first inning by throwing a runner out at the plate for a double play, followed with a two-out walk.
Baylee Anderson came through with a RBI single to center for the 2-1 lead.
Starting pitcher Alana Comstock struck out the side in the top of the second inning to keep the momentum on Palmyra’s side.
Grace Watson laid down a perfect bunt with one out in the home half of the second to start a rally.
Lovelace followed with her second hit of the game. Lexi Arch then benefited from Watson screening the shortstop on a grounder that ended up in left field and a 3-1 lead for the Lady Panthers.
Megan Stone extended Palmyra’s lead to 5-1 with a 2-run single to left.
“The girls came in here knowing they had a job to do tonight,” the Palmyra coach said. “They knew they had to get ahead early and that’s what they did.”
Then the Centralia bats came back to life.
Katelyn Rakers, who finished 4-for-5 from the leadoff spot, started a one-out rally with her second infield single of the game. Two batters later Jaymi Freeman pulled Centralia to within 5-2 with a single up the middle.
After a lineout to third, Gwen Bostick helped herself out at the plate with a 2-run double to deep left field.
Palmyra extended its lead to 6-4 in the fourth inning.
Lovelace led off the inning with a triple to the gap in right center. Arch followed with an RBI groundout.
Centralia tied the game with a pair of unearned runs in the top of fifth.
With two outs and runners in scoring position, Sadie Owens lifted a popup on the infield that could not be fielded cleanly. Both runners scored.
It opened the floodgates.
The visitors scored six more runs over the final two frames for the win.
“You give them an inch and they will take a mile,” Arch said of Centralia. “And speed kills. We talked about that before the game. But they are a great team. That’s why they are the defending state champs. That’s just the way it is.”
Centralia pounded out 16 hits in the game.
Palmyra recorded 11 hits, including a 3-for-4 effort from Lovelace.
“Overall I thought our hitting was good, we just had two innings where we didn’t hit and if we hit those innings, we are right there with them,” the Palmyra coach said.
Wilson returned to the Palmyra lineup after missing the previous game due to receiving nine stitches on her throwing hand after a loss to Canton on Monday.
“It was a last-minute decision,” Arch said. “She was cleared by the doctor and she was ready to go. She wanted to be out there to help her teammates. She is a great leader for us.”
Palmyra (15-8) plays host to Hannibal on Monday before entering district play as the No. 1 seed.
Centralia 12, Palmyra 6
Centralia 103 025 1 -- 12 16 1
Palmyra 230 100 0 -- 6 11 4
CENTRALIA (18-6, 9-0): Gwen Bostick (W) and Kellyn Vega. Top hitters: Katelyn Rakers 4-for-5; Jaymi Freeman 3-for-4 RBI; Vega 2-for-4 3 RBI; Bostick 2-for-4 2 RBI. 2B: Bostick, Sadie Owens.
PALMYRA (15-8, 8-1): Alana Comstock (L) and Brooke Wilson. Top hitters: Bailey Lovelace 3-for-4; Wilson 2-for-4 RBI; Baylee Anderson 2-for-4 RBI. 3B: Lovelace; Cameron O’Brien