DANVILLE — The Centerburg Trojans ran out to an early 5-0 lead and continued to add to that advantage, holding off the Danville Blue Devils, 12-6, thanks to 21 hits.
“It’s a huge win for our program,” Centerburg coach Tim Rioux said. “This is the kind of win that we really needed I think to get us over the hump. Our girls just played great. … This is probably one of the best wins our program has had in I don’t know how many years.”
Centerburg rushed out early with three runs in the first. Chloe Goulter scored first and a double by Aubrey Clippinger plated two runs to give the visitors an early lead. Goulter scored again in the second on a single from Noa Sesma. Clippinger kept her hot bat going in the third inning with a leadoff solo shot to push the Trojans ahead 5-0.
After solid pitching in the middle innings, the Blue Devils got their bats going in the fifth. Daleigh Parker laced a double into left field and Brittney Holt, who was running for Carley Seitz, and McKinley Alberts both scored on the play. An error on the next at bat allowed Parker to score and cut the lead to 5-3 after five innings.
“I think it’s starting earlier and putting it together, definitely,” Lyons said of the spurt of runs.
The Trojans were not comfortable with the two-run lead and the next time they touched their bats, they pushed across two more runs. Kenzie Davis singled to score Sesma and Clippinger came around to score on the next at bat to run the lead back up to four, 7-3.
The Blue Devils scratched out another run with Keaura Shilling scoring on an Alberts single to trim the lead to three, but the Trojans exploded for five runs in the top of the fifth. Sesma doubled to score Goulter and Amelia Smith, and Sesma scored next on a triple by Savannah Dehart. Dehart and Clippinger scored the final two runs for Centerburg to give the visitors 12 on the night. Danville did not go away quietly, with Aubrey Dawson, who was running for Kaitlynn Briggs, scoring on a passed ball. Hannah Duncan scored on a single by Shilling, but a third out ended the rally attempt.
“That’s one of the things we’ve talked about is when we get the lead, don’t let up,” Rioux said. “We’ve got to learn how to finish games and we did that tonight.”
Clippinger had a standout day at the plate, knocking four hits, including two doubles and a homer, to go with her three runs and three RBI.
“I just knew that as soon as I stepped in the batter’s box, that my team really needed me at those moments and I just knew that I had to try my best and do my best when I was in there,” Clippinger said.
Goulter, Sesma, Dehart and Davis all had three hits on the day, with Sesma and Davis combining for three doubles. Sesma and Goulter each scored three runs and Sesma knocked home four runners. Makenna Martindale and Smith had two hits apiece, with Kaitlyn Tenzos chipping in a base hit.
Dehart pitched a gem in the circle, lasting all seven innings, allowing 10 hits, five earned runs with two strikeouts and four walks.
On the rubber for the Blue Devils, Holt got the start, after hurling several innings earlier this week. She lasted two frames with six hits, five earned runs, three strikeouts and three walks. Alberts came on for 4 1/3 innings of relief, despite not normally being a pitcher, giving up seven runs and a walk, while fanning three. CeCe Newbold came in for the final two outs, one of which came by strikeout.
“It’s pretty evident we’re struggling right now with injuries to our pitchers,” Lyons said. “We’re just at a point where we’re having to work with different people in different defensive positions and I’m just hoping in the long run our pitchers will be healthy.”
At the plate, Briggs and Alberts each had three hits and an RBI. Parker knocked home two runs on her two hits and Jasmine Anderson, Shilling and Seitz each had a hit.
Danville fell to 12-6 on the year with an 8-3 record in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference and the Blue Devils return to action today on the road against Crestline at 5 p.m. Centerburg now sits at 10-9 overall and 4-8 in the league. The Trojans hit the road Friday to take on Worthington Christian at 5:15 p.m.
“We’re going to enjoy it, I’ll be honest,” Rioux said of the win. “We’re going to look back on it and enjoy the win and look at the things we did right tonight and just keep building the confidence.”