Centralia's offense continues to roll in win over Black Hills


It’s been an up-and-down start of the season for the Centralia Tigers, who prior to Wednesday, had alternated wins and losses over their first six games.

While the consistency in the win-loss record hasn’t been there, the consistency on offense has been. The Tigers scored at least seven runs in five of their first six games, and on Wednesday against Black Hills, the offense showed up in a big way again.

Chloe Bonomi and Hollynn Wakefield both hit home runs, and the Tigers scored 10 or more for the fourth-straight game in a 10-5 victory.

For Centralia coach David Orr, the recipe for success at the plate has been simple.

“I think it’s just confidence,” Orr said, before adding that they still have room to become even better. “I think that once these girls figure out how good they can really be, things will really start clicking … I’m really proud of them.”

While the Tigers (4-3, 2-1 2A EvCo) were able to take control early, they did squander a chance to immediately hang a crooked number in the first inning.

After loading the bases with no one out, a fielder’s choice brought home a run and put runners on first and second with one out. What followed was a wacky 4-3-2-5 double play that gave the Wolves (2-3, 0-3 2A EvCo) a bolt of energy and limited the damage to just one run.

Slowly, Centralia added, first with Bomoni’s two-run home run in the second, her first of the season, then with a Payton Baumel RBI single in the third.

Orr was happy to see Bomoni have success, saying that she is beginning to benefit from all the hard work she has put in.

“She’s there early. She’s there late,” Orr said. “She’s a grinder. And today, she made a difference.”

Black Hills didn’t go down without a fight, however. Emma Arko got the Wolves on the board in the third with an RBI single, and Madi Mounts hit an RBI double before coming around to score to make it a 4-3 ballgame in the top of the fifth.

The Tiger offense went back to work, first scoring twice in the second before a four-run sixth was capped by Wakefield’s three-run blast.

Wakefield was stellar again for Centralia in the circle, maintaining her composure throughout while the Wolves tried to string together a rally.

Black Hills put the pressure on her again in the seventh, scoring twice and putting two runners in scoring position with just one out. Wakefield again promptly killed the rally before it truly got going, striking out the next two hitters to end the game.

“She’s a workhorse,” Orr said, noting that her ability to battle through congestion on the basepaths is second to none. “She can take a little walk, come back in that circle and get her command right back.”

Orr also joked that since plucking her out of center field and putting her in the circle last season, she’s been a natural.

“She acted like she’d been there all year,” Orr said with a laugh. “That’s where she should be, and that’s where we’re gonna keep her.”

Wakefield finished with 12 strikeouts, allowing six hits and five runs (two earned), and she went 1 for 2 at the plate with her home run. 

Bomoni finished 2 for 3 with her home run, while Baumel went 3 for 4 and Gracie Schofield went 2 for 3 with an RBI and three runs scored. 

On the other side, it’s Black Hills’ third-straight loss, all of them coming against league opponents after a 2-0 start.

Black Hills coach Mike Vessey said that the Wolves need to find a way to string together hits at a more consistent pace, and that the first part of the seventh against Centralia could be the blueprint moving forward.

“We are a very young team, and we are going through some growing pains right now,” Vessey said. “We did show some fight in the seventh inning … We will keep working hard and see where we can go.”