FARMINGTON – Central has relied on several freshmen to help sustain a good start to its varsity softball season. Kerston Furry embraced the spotlight Thursday in an early conference showdown.
The young right fielder lined a clutch 2-run single with the bases loaded, and the Lady Rebels scored four times in the seventh inning to defeat Farmington 5-3 for first place in the MAAA standings.
Central capitalized on late mistakes and revived its offense just in time after struggling to catch up with Farmington ace Kaila Nash throughout much of the contest.
Hanna Stam provided an insurance RBI hit during the seventh, and aggressively brought Central even at 1-1 by stealing home in the sixth inning.
Kylie House allowed seven hits and struck out four in the victory. The right-hander worked through two dangerous jams in the fifth and sixth innings.
Each team is now responsible for the other’s lone loss this season. Farmington (6-1) took the first meeting from Central (6-1) two weekends ago during the Union Tournament.
Nash continued a stellar week at the plate by hitting her third home run in two days. But the towering 2-run shot to left field only halved the Farmington deficit in the bottom of the seventh.
She was equally impressive in the circle on Thursday, and carried a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings by retiring 17 of her first 18 batters on repetitive ground balls.
But a walk to Stam and subsequent single by Ally Welch put runners at the corners in the sixth, and Central cashed in on what initially appeared to be a base-running miscue.
Welch drew a throw to the shortstop after stumbling to the ground between first and second. A return throw was accurate as Stam broke from third base, but her slide dislodged the softball from catcher Olivia Siebert’s glove for the tying run.
A 1-out walk to Karissa Belfield preceded a throwing error on a bunt to spark the decisive Central rally. Nash recorded the second out on a shallow fly ball after House singled to load the bases.
Furry put the Lady Rebels ahead with a soft liner that just barely glanced off the outstretch glove of shortstop Alyson Tucker and trickled into left field.
Stam followed with a single past third, and Furry scored behind courtesy runner Skyler Amonette as a strong throw from left field redirected into foul territory.
House yielded her first hit in the fourth when Hanna Hight singled sharply in a 2-for-4 effort. Farmington would then grab a 1-0 lead in the fifth.
Olivia Siebert drove in Hallye Tucker with an infield single that House nearly speared up the middle, but the Knightettes would leave the bases loaded.
Tucker went 2-for-3 overall and singled to put runners at the corners in the Farmington sixth, but House kept the score level at 1-1 with a called strikeout.
Second baseman Emily Briese recorded seven defensive assists and one putout in a busy afternoon for the Knightettes. She was involved in all three outs during a quick first inning.
Central improved to 4-0 in league play while Farmington slipped into a tie with North County at 3-1. The conference rematch is scheduled for Sept. 23 in Park Hills.