Tuminella's ninth-inning home run lifts Hannan by CCHS
By GEOFF STOUTE
SULPHUR — For eight innings, Central Catholic and Archbishop Hannan’s defense overcame everything the opponents’ offense threw at them, as both played to a scoreless tie.
In the ninth, Central Catholic nearly kept the scoring drought going for Archbishop Hannan.
Then Bailey Tuminella made her mark with one swing.
Tuminella connected on a two-out pitch from Central Catholic’s Megan Landry and sent it probably 10 feet over the centerfield wall for what proved to be the winning run in a 1-0 victory for Archbishop Hannan in the Class 1A quarterfinals.
“She’s been hitting well all week. … She’s been very focused … and she hit that one a ton,” Hannan coach Becky Lambert said.
Prior to that, both teams’ defenses had given the other teams’ offenses fits.
For Archbishop Hannan, it was multiple running basket catches low to the ground by its outfielders, while Central Catholic’s Caroline Byrne also made several nice grabs in the outfield, including one that potentially robbed Tuminella of a home run in the seventh inning when she made a leap on the run to grab a ball near the wall for the first out of the inning. She was so close to the wall that she used it to stop her momentum.
“We made some great defensive plays, and it was just unfortunate you had to have a loser in that game because it was that good of a ball game in my opinion,” Central Catholic coach Joe Russo said. “Nobody walks off that field a loser. Not in my opinion.”
Ironically, the catch came two innings after she was robbed of a hit on a shot to deep centerfield on a leaping grab by Hannan’s Carley Eshleman for the third out of the inning.
It was Eshleman’s second solid play of the inning as three batters earlier, she had made a catch while falling to her knees on a hit by Bridgette Swan.
Eshleman’s second catch of the inning stranded Central Catholic’s Gee Garrett, who had reached base on an infield single. Even on that play, Hannan second baseman Brooke Laigest had laid out to keep from going into right field.
“We knew we were coming into a war and it was just that,” Russo said. “It was a war, and hats off to (Hannan) for playing a great game. But I think we gave them everything they wanted and more. It was a great game … both sides. I’m very proud of our girls.”
Both teams’ defenses bailed their pitchers out of trouble as with Hannan’s Maddi Shelton on the mound, the Lady Eagles stranded runners at second base in the second inning.
In the first, the Lady Eagles Kimberly Russo had reached second place after being hit by a pitch and moving over on a sacrifice bunt by Celine Flores. However, she was thrown out by Hannan catcher Caitlin Collins trying to take third base.
For the Lady Eagles, their defense helped Landry escape any trouble following a double to left field to begin the third by Kimberly Nilsson, who later advanced to third base during the inning, as well as a two-out threat with runners on second and third in the top of the seventh when Hannan third baseman Lindsey Osbon grounded out to second base.
Both pitchers went the distance as Shelton surrendered four hits and fanned four, while Landry surrendered four hits, two walks and struck out six.
“Offensively, the Landry kid got us off balanced,” Lambert said. “(She was) a very, very good pitcher. One of the better pitchers we’ve seen this year. … Defensively, great game on both sides. … It’s just a shame that someone had to lose.”
Tuminella led Hannan with a 1-for-4 performance with the solo home run, while Nilsson and Eshleman each finished 1-for-3 with a double and Osbon also finished 1-for-3.
Landry, Garrett, Byrne and Flores each finished 1-for-3 for Central Catholic.
Hannan went on to fall to Catholic High-Pointe Coupee, 4-3, in eight innings in the Class 1A final Saturday night.
For Central Catholic, Friday’s loss meant the end of the careers of five seniors, including four who started Friday’s contest.
Russo credited his seniors for their work and character.
“They’re going to be successful in life, and hopefully they use these lessons they learned in softball, especially the one today,” Russo said Friday. “You’re going to win some in life and you’re going to lose some in life, but you just got to go with it.”