CENTERVILLE — The Centerville softball team finally got the train out of the station, so to speak, on Saturday in their home tournament.
At least that's what it might have sounded like during the first inning of their second game when Claire Mathews delivered the team's first home run of the season.
"Ever since Merle (Jones) came here to coach, his statistician, Gary, has this train whistle," Mathews said. "Every time one of us hit a home run, we hear it."
Mathews pounded out seven extra base hits during Centerville's home tournament, leading the Redettes to the first two wins of the season. After a 14-2 win over Moravia to open play on the Appanoose County softball diamonds on the Indian Hills Community College campus, the Redettes briefly evened their overall record with a 15-5 win over Seymour
The momentum built up from consecutive wins carried Centerville to a quick start against seventh-ranked (4A) Carlisle. Mathews delivered her sixth double of the day in the top of the first, bringing in Kiera Klum to give the Redettes a 1-0 lead.
Lexxi Link, however, responded by striking out the next two batters as the Wildcats responded in a big way with five runs in the bottom of the first. Carlisle added eight runs in the bottom of the second, clinching a 13-1 win to snap Centerville's brief two-game winning streak.
"We're still walking out of here winners on the day. Obviously, Carlisle showed us what softball's all about," Jones said. "That's what these tournaments are for. I want to challenge my team. I wanted them to see how good Carlisle is. It's the first week of the season and you have to jump in and play sometime.
"We're going to be fine. I really like where we're at. I don't ever like to lose, but we're going to walk out of this tournament 2-1 losing only to a team that usually makes it to state."
Centerville batted around in each of the first two innings of the first two games, including batting around three times against Seymour. The Redettes took advantage of six errors on the Mohawks in the first game of the tournament, capitalizing early and often scoring four runs in the very first inning and five times in the second opening an early 9-1 lead.
Centerville would again open a 9-1 lead in the second inning of their second game on Saturday. Mathews delivered her first home run of the season for the Redettes, giving Centerville a 3-0 lead against Seymour without an out being recorded.
"These first two games really instilled a lot of confidence in us," Mathews said. "It was good to come back after losing our first two games."
Centerville had very little time to prepare for their home tournament, falling on their true home diamond at Lakeview Elementary on Friday night 4-2 in eight innings to South Central Conference rival Davis County. The Redettes nearly secured their first win of the season against the Mustangs, forcing extra innings by tying the game at 2-2 on an error but had the potential winning run thrown out at home plate.
Just over 12 hours later, Centerville (2-3) was back on the diamond facing Moravia. The Redettes were up even earlier getting ready for a home tournament tripleheader.
"We were up getting ready for the day over at the high school early in the morning," Mathews said. "We went through a little bit of team hitting, so we got some work in before we came over here for the tournament."
The work paid off as all nine hitters in the Centerville batting order made a trip to the plate in each of the first two innings against the Mohawks. Moravia, entering the day with three Bluegrass Conference wins to open the season including a 12-0 shutout against Melcher-Dallas on Friday, had several shifts in their defensive alignment as 3-0 senior pitcher Anaya Keith was kept out of the lineup to continue her recovery from an arm injury that has kept Keith from pitching a complete game so far this season.
"It's good to see good teams and the teams we saw in this tournament are good teams," Moravia head softball coach Kevin Fritz said. "We didn't perform to the level I think our team is capable of playing. I think we were just outmatched."
Moravia (3-2) dropped a 12-0 contest to Knoxville in the final window of play, allowing six runs in the second and third innings. The Mohawks return home Tuesday to host Twin Cedars looking to stay unbeaten in Bluegrass Conference play while Centerville will look to even their overall record again on Tuesday at home against Central Decatur.
"That's what softball is. The girls have to learn to compete. Days like this toughen the girls up," Jones said. "Softball is a tough-girl sport."