Two early pitches key in Centennial victory

Two pitches almost never decide 14-run softball games.

But consecutive pitches in the first inning Wednesday went a long way to helping Centennial’s softball team rout visiting Coronado on Wednesday.

After the Bulldogs turned a double play on the final pitch of the top of the first inning, Sonja Lawrence looped the first pitch of the bottom of the inning into right field for an inside-the-park home run that sent Centennial on its way to a 15-1, five-inning win over the Cougars.

“That was a huge momentum swing,” Centennial coach Mike Livreri said. “If they score early, they start feeling good about themselves. We came back in the bottom of the inning and took advantage of a mistake. We always want to capitalize.”

With a runner at second and one out in the top of the first, Centennial third baseman Savannah Horvath speared Danielle Amato’s line drive and fired to second to double off the runner and end an early Cougars threat.

Lawrence wasted no time building on the momentum, going the opposite way on Jillian James’ first pitch.

Coronado right fielder Lauren Buck charged the ball, but it slipped under her glove as she attempted to make a running catch. The ball scooted to the fence, and Lawrence easily scored.

Lauren Stroman, hitting behind the past two state players of the year in Centennial’s lineup, tacked on a two-out, two-run homer over the fence in left-center to give Centennial a 3-0 lead.

“Lauren has not disappointed,” Livreri said. “We have to continue to rely on her in big spots. We know they’re going to come.”

Coronado (2-6) scored in the top of the second, but the Bulldogs put their first seven batters of the second on base en route to a seven-run inning.

Allison Riggs had an RBI double and an RBI single in the inning, and Lawrence tacked on an RBI double.

Lawrence, a junior, played sparingly last year, and the Bulldogs’ top two hitters in last year’s lineup either graduated or didn’t return to the team.

“Sonja really has worked hard in practice and shown a lot of desire,” Livreri said. “We really didn’t know who our leadoff hitter was going to be. She’s made some things happen up there. She has great speed.”

Heather Bowen went 3-for-3 with an RBI, and Riggs finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs for Centennial (4-2).

Cheyenne Cudahy tossed a five-hitter and struck out four for the Bulldogs, who have won the past two large-school state titles.

Katie Dawson was 2-for-2 for Coronado.

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