The season ended for Central at 24-16-1 while Mt. Juliet advanced to Friday’s 5 p.m. loser’s bracket final against Hendersonville, a 15-7 loser to Portland in the winner’s bracket final earlier Thursday.
Portland, the No. 7 seed, will await the Mt. Juliet-Hendersonville winner at 7 p.m. Friday with both advancing to next week’s Region 5-AAA tournament. Mt. Juliet is the highest remaining seed at No. 2 while Hendersonville is No. 5.
Central, seeded fourth, jumped to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Claire Smith was hit by a pitch and Brooke Pfefferle walked. After Smith stole third, Pfefferle got in a rundown and Smith swiped home.
Mt. Juliet tied the score in the second when Makayla Draper singled to center field, stole second and scored on Lexi Stafford’s single to center.
Central loaded the bases in the third but were turned away when Pfefferle lined out to right.
Pinch-hitter Zoe Hayes singled to center in the fifth. Camryn Cernuto’s bunt single was thrown away, putting runners on second and third. After Kaylee Richetto relieved Ashley Foster in the circle, a fielder’s choice resulted in an out at the plate. Burt Alyssa Costley’s grounder was thrown away for a 3-1 Lady Bear lead.
The Lady Wildcats had one more life left in the seventh as they loaded the bases. Smith’s liner to center was caught for a sacrifice fly to score Laney Tucker. Alaina Morris hit a ground to shortstop which resulted in interference being called on the runner, ending the game.
Foster pitched four innings-plus, allowing five hits, to take the loss.
Costley worked the full seven innings for the win, scattering six hits.