MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Central-Phenix City scored a pair of first-inning runs and made it stand up in a 2-1 victory Friday over Baker in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A state softball tournament at Lagoon Park.
The win came in the losers bracket after the Lady Red Devils (45-15-1) lost Friday's opener 6-5 to top-ranked Sparkman.
Central will play the Vestavia Hills/Bob Jones loser at 10 a.m. today. The Lady Red Devils, who are making their first appearance in the state tournament since 2001, will need to win five straight games today to win the state championship.
"Absolutely," Central coach Bobby Cook said when asked whether his team is ready to win five more games. "I am thrilled to know I have one more day with these girls."
Kristine Brown (31-8) made the early two-run lead stand up. She held Baker hitless through 4 2-3 innings. Jenna Charnock hit a line drive into center field for Baker's first hit.
After she stole second, Rachel Vincent hit a double that rolled to the fence in left center, driving in Charnock and cutting Central's lead to 2-1.
Baker tried to rally in the seventh. After an out, pinch-hitter Lexie Mathis hit a ball back to Brown, but she
couldn't pick it up. After another out, Brown walked a batter and hit one to load the bases.
But Brown got Tyler Harrison to ground out to first baseman Kaelen Scott to end the game.
"She was phenomenal," Cook said. "The effort of her and the defense was outstanding."
Central's Cassidy Davis led off the first inning with a single. Kristin Studds was hit by a pitch. After a sacrifice bunt by Scott, Brittany Russ drove in Davis with a sacrifice fly. Leah Lancaster followed with a double to the fence in right center, scoring Studds for a 2-0 lead.
After that, Baker pitcher Jessica Poiroux limited the Lady Red Devils to just one hit, while she struck out eight.
SPARKMAN 6, CENTRAL 5
Central mounted a furious rally in the seventh inning but came up a run short.
Central trailed 6-3 heading into the top of the seventh. Studds led off with her third hit of the game, which prompted Sparkman to replace starter Meg Willis with Jenna Korak.
Korak struggled, hitting Scott and giving up a single to Russ to load the bases. Studds scored on a wild pitch to bring the Red Devils within two, 6-4.
After Lancaster popped up, Katie Webb walked to reload the bases. Brown grounded to the first baseman as Scott scored to make it 6-5.
Kirsten Powell then chopped a ball into the ground that Korak jumped to catch, then she threw out Powell at first to end the game.
Central jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Davis and Studds reached with back-to-back hits.
Davis scored as Russ reached on an error by second baseman Jordan Bullock. Studds scored when Lancaster beat out a potential double-play throw.
Sparkman put together five hits in the bottom of the second to take a 3-2 lead. Bullock drove in two.
Central scored an unearned run in the third to tie the game. Studds reached on the first error by Bullock. After going to second on a wild pitch, she scored on Russ' single.
Sparkman took the lead for good with an unearned run in the bottom of the third. Willis, who led off with a base on balls, scored on a two-out error by Davis, the shortstop.
A controversial call on Davis led to a pair of runs in the fifth as Sparkman increased its lead to 6-3.
Taylor Hurford led off with a walk. Courtesy runner Ariel Smith went to second on a sacrifice fly. Shannon Summers hit a grounder to Davis, who fielded the ball and turned and tagged Hurford. The umpires ruled obstruction on Davis, putting Smith on third.
Bevia Robinson hit a grounder back to Brown, who threw home, where Russ tagged out Smith.
After Bullock reached on an infield single to load the bases, Korak singled in two runs for the three-run lead.
Brown took the loss. She gave up six runs (five earned) on nine hits and six walks. She struck out two.
Friday at Lagoon Park
Central 201 000 2 --5 9 1
Sparkman 031 020 x --6 9 2
WP--Meg Willis (NA). LP--Kristine Brown. Leading hitters--Central Cassidy Davis 1-4, R; Kristin Studds 3-4, 3R; Kaelen Scott 0-3, R; Brittany Russ 2-4, 2RBI; Leah Lancaster 2-3, RBI; Kristine Brown 0-4, RBI; Lauren Hughes 1-2. Sparkman Bevia Robinson 0-4, R; Jordan Bullock 2-4, 2RBI; Janna Korak 1-1, 2RBI; Ashlee Price 1-4; Hannah Palmer 2-2, R; Shannon Summers 1-3, RBI, 2R.
Baker 000 010 0 --1 3 1
Central 200 000 x-- 2 3 3
WP--Kristine Brown (31-8). LP--Jessica Poiroux (NA). Leading hitters--Baker Rachel Vincent 1-3, 2B; RBI; Lacey Sumerlin 1-3; Jenna Charnock 1-2, R. Central Cassidy Davis 1-4, R; Kristin Studds 0-2, R; Brittany Russ 0-2, RBI; Leah Lancaster 1-2, 2B, RBI. Record: Central 45-15-1. Next: Baker season over; Central 10 a.m. today vs. Vestavia Hills/Bob Jones loser.
at Lagoon Park, Montgomery
Game 1: Bob Jones 4, Dothan 1
Game 2: Vestavia Hills 1, Theodore 0
Game 3: Hillcrest-Tusacaloosa 9, Baker 3
Game 4: Sparkman 6, Central 5
Game 5: Dothan vs. Theodore, 8 p.m.
Game 6: Central 1, Baker 1
Game 7: Bob Jones vs. Vestavia Hills, 8 p.m.
Game 8: Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa vs. Sparkman, 8 p.m.
Game 9: Central vs. Game 7 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 11:30 a.m.
Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 13: Game 12 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 4 p.m.
Game 14: Game 11 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 6:30 p.m.
Game 15: if game, 8 p.m.