By LINDA JACOBS
CORRIGAN—Hailey Nash smashed a game-winning two run homer over the centerfield fence in the ninth inning to power the Corrigan Lady Bulldogs to a 10-8 victory over Central Heights in District 22-3A softball action Thursday night in Corrigan.
Nash, a sophomore catcher for the Lady Dawgs, had already trotted around the bases with a solo homerun in the fourth inning to cushion an 8-5 lead for the home team.
Corrigan had jumped out early with four runs in the bottom of the first and would extend the margin to 7-1 before the Lady Blue Devils stormed back to knot the game eight all in the top of the fifth frame.
Nash was even in the count at 2-2 when she blasted the game-winning homer off Lady Blue Devil pitcher Tamara Crain, who tallied 14 strikeouts against the Lady Dawgs. "That second strike on her totally lit up Central Heights," commented Lady Bulldog coach Taryn Baker. "She turned and looked at me and I knew she was confident and had something up her sleeve. She did a great job." Nash would finish with a game-leading three RBIs.
Rachael Wright would connect two hits and McKenzie Eaton, Paige Hooks and Courtney Elliott each registered hits off Crain.
Pitching a gem of a game for Corrigan was freshman Makenna Hughes who worked out of several jams with a wily changeup that had the Blue Devils swinging at air a few times. Hughes finished with 10 strikeouts.
"I think her (changeup) stands out a little bit more than the other ones because it is so off speed, but she really does have a great screwball and a drop curve as well," said coach Baker.
Hughes gave up eight hits to the Blue Devils, including a pair of homeruns that helped to get Central Heights back in the ballgame.
"There were a couple of times she had the option of shutting down, but she didn't," said Baker. "It's so hard to have a couple of homeruns hit off you and still have the mentality to fight through it, and she did.
"This has been probably the most fight that I've seen in us all season," added Baker. "What a great time, because we're starting our second round of district and for them to start off the second round of district this way is really great. I mean they fought from the beginning to the very end. They wanted it so bad and I'm just so proud of them. They did such a great job."
The Lady Dawgs drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning. Blue Devil junior Rachel Williams started on the mound and was hobbled for four quick runs. Corrigan sent their entire lineup to the plate during the inning and registered RBI singles from Rachael Wright and Courtney Elliott.
The visitors got their first run of the game in the top of the second. Allyssa Mooney started the action by reaching on an error. She advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground out and later scored on a wild pitch for a 4-1 margin.
Corrigan started the second inning with the top of their lineup back at the plate. The first two batters, Keely Smith and McKenzie Eaton hit deep flies to right field and both were misplayed by the Blue Devil outfielder. Smith was able to round all the bases and Eaton landed at third. Eaton later scored on a passed ball for a 6-1 advantage.
Hailey Nash scored the Dawgs' final run of the inning. She was issued a walk and would later score on a passed ball to extend Corrigan's lead to 7-1.
Central Heights added a run in the top of the third off two walks and two errors for a 7-2 margin. The Lady Dawgs went quietly in the bottom half of the third, as Crain faced just four batters, fanning three out of the four.
The Blue Devils inched closer in the top of the fourth, scoring three runs on three hits. Kamryn Moore started the frame by belting a standup double to deep left field. Moore scored on a sacrifice fly to right field for a 7-3 score.
With two outs in the inning, cleanup batter Kennedy Powell unloaded a two run homer to centerfield to make it a 7-5 ballgame. Hughes handled the final out on a bouncer back to the mound.
Nash led off the bottom of the fourth and crushed the first pitch over right centerfield for a solo home run and an 8-5 lead for the Lady Dawgs.
Paige Hooks followed with a single to center and Eryka Price boarded on an infield error, but both were stranded as Crain struck out one, followed by two infield pop ups.
The game was tied in the top of the fifth when the Blue Devils plated three runs off two hits, one walk and one Corrigan error.
Riley Farrell reached on an error to lead off the inning and Allyssa Mooney followed with a homer over the left field fence to make it an 8-7 contest.
Hughes allowed a walk and a single with a strikeout in between to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Pinch runner Shelby Toner scored on a sacrifice grounder to knot the score at 8. The inning was halted on a pop fly to third baseman Keely Smith.
The two teams were scoreless over the next three innings. The Blue Devils would strand five and put runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings.
Central Heights' biggest threat came in the ninth when they loaded the bases. Hughes started the frame with a strikeout, but gave up a single to left field. Another Blue Devil reached on an error. Hughes fanned Ashley Lucas for the second out of the inning, then walked Carmen Acosta to load the bases.
Cleanup batter Kennedy Powell, who had homered in the fourth, came to the plate next. Hughes got ahead in the count 1-2 and caught Powell looking at a third strike to end the threat.
The game came to a conclusion in the bottom of the ninth when Nash came through in dramatic fashion for the Lady Dawgs.
Crain started the inning with a strikeout to leadoff batter Keely Smith. First baseman McKenzie Eaton got on board with a single down the leftfield line. She advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Nash put the 'W' in the book by lofting her second homerun of the game to plate both her and Eaton for the 10-8 victory.
Corrigan's next two games will be on the road at Garrison and Hemphill.
The Lady Dawgs return home April 14, hosting the Woodville Lady Eagles (Parent Night).