By KEVIN HARRIS
Floyd Central and Bedford North Lawrence advanced to tonight’s Class 4A Jeffersonville Sectional semifinals in different ways on Monday night at Jeff High Field.
The Highlanders rolled past Seymour in the sectional opener in five innings, 16-3. The Stars rallied from a seventh-inning deficit to knock off the host Red Devils, 6-3.
Floyd Central and Bedford will meet in the first semifinal at 6 tonight, followed by Jennings County against New Albany at about 8. The championship game will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
The Owls (14-14) scored two runs in the top of the first inning by executing some small ball.
With runners on second and third base with one out, the Highlanders (21-5) committed a throwing error on a bunt by Seymour’s Kelsey Nolting, allowing Logan Personett to score from third.
Then the Owls’ Devon Joray laid down a perfectly-placed bunt on the third-base side of the pitcher’s circle to knock in Emily Bobb from third to put Seymour up 2-0.
Floyd Central exploded after that.
The Highlanders tallied eight runs on eight hits in the bottom of the first, sending 13 batters to the plate. The big hit was by junior Katelin Dreher, who launched a three-run home run to dead center field to give Floyd Central a 3-2 lead.
“We were getting down on ourselves [after the top of the first] and I told our team to keep our heads up and it was only the first inning so a lot can happen,” Dreher said.
Other key hits in the frame were an RBI single by Morgan Harper and a two-run base hit by Kassie King.
“Seymour came out with a great game plan. It started off with some small ball and bunts and that was smart. It kind of did rattle us defensively,” Floyd Central coach Scott Castleberry said. “But I knew we had runs in us and I knew we could hit.”
The Highlanders kept on rolling with six runs on four hits in the bottom of the third, as 10 batters went to the plate. Dreher came up with the key hit again in the inning, smacking a three-run double to right with two out to give Floyd Central a 14-2 advantage. Also in the frame, Clara Shean and Caroline Cato each had RBI singles.
Dreher ended up going 3-for-3 with six RBIs and two runs scored. Cato was 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Also for Floyd Central, Gabbi Jenkins and Regan Hadley each were 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Harper was 2-for-2 with three runs scored and two RBIs. Jenkins had two RBIs.
“They told me on the way here that they felt really confident that they were going to hit the ball, and they showed it tonight,” Castleberry said.
Cato got the win in the circle. She pitched only three innings, giving up three runs (none earned) on four hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
Trailing 3-2 in the top of the seventh, the Stars (15-13) scored four runs, all with two out, to go up by three runs. Marissa Watson scored from second after the Red Devils (14-9) dropped a pop fly to center by Kaci Ikerd to tie the game at three.
That was followed by an RBI single by Rebecca Schoenung on an RBI single to put Bedford up 4-3 off Jeff reliever Emily Gray.
Then another pop fly by the Red Devils allowed Schoenung to come home all the way from third. The Stars’ scoring ended when Cassidy Morron hit an RBI double to right-center.
Jeff scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 3-2 lead. The Red Devils’ Marley Edwards collected a two-run single with one out to tie the game at two. Moments later, Emma Coons gave Jeff the lead with an RBI single. Coons wound up going 2-for-2.
The seventh inning spoiled a great relief outing by Gray. Relieving Jeff starter Kayleigh Thomas in the fourth, Gray retired 10 of the first 11 batters she faced before Bedford’s Justice Kline smacked a two-out single in the seventh. Gray ended up pitching four innings, surrendering four runs (all unearned) on three hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
The Red Devils say goodbye to four seniors in Edwards, Thomas, Tifany Sheets and Janel Nelson.