STANTON — Central Montcalm’s softball team continued rolling through the Central State Activities Association Tuesday.
It’s their toughest test to date in the conference was Tuesday against Hesperia, which also came in with just two losses in the conference.
The Green Hornets got the win over the Panthers, winning games of 4-3 and 5-2.
“It was really, really huge,” Central coach Bruce Nicholson said. “Hesperia’s a very solid team and we hadn’t played in a week.”
The first game saw each team score a run in the second inning, but the Panthers (11-6, 6-4) scored a pair of runs in the third on a single, a stolen base, a groundout, a sacrifice fly, another single and a double.
“We missed some opportunities there,” Nicholson said. “They (Hesperia) are a good hitting team.”
Neither team could work a run until the fifth when the Hornets (16-7, 12-2) added an RBI single by Michaela Crooks. That made the score 3-2.
But in the seventh, Saydee Rowland walked, and two outs later, Crooks hit a home run over the left-center field fence for a walk-off win.
“That was so good for her because she was our best player coming back from last year’s stats,” Nicholson said of Crooks. “She had really been battling. She lost some of her confidence. That one in the fifth she hit the fence. She almost hit that one out of here. It’s amazing for her. We need her bad.”
That home run made a winner of Paige Switzer, who allowed just six hits, walking two and fanning six.
Katie Annis took the loss for Hesperia, allowing four hits in 6 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out four.
Crooks and Scylar Blaisdell had two hits each in the win.
Annis and Alexis Castillo had two hits each for the Panthers.
In the second game, Central jumped on Hesperia lefty Meredith Schmitz for four runs in the second inning and another in the third and made the runs stand through a two-run fifth for the Panthers.
“We put a good string together,” Nicholson said of the second inning. “We did it all with two outs. We ran the bases pretty good, we got a couple two-out hits and put a good inning together that we haven’t done since we got here. Then we held on.”
Freshman pitcher Paige Ledin did the rest, getting five strikeouts without a walk and scattering just five hits.
“She (Ledin) has been doing awesome out there. She’s been battling through it,” Nicholson said. “Very consistent. She battled some sickness all week. She had some chest cold stuff going on throughout the week.”
Schmitz was the losing pitcher for Hesperia, allowing 11 hits, walking five and striking out four.
Blaisdell had three hits in the game and Switzer and Maddy Christensen added two each.
No Panther player had more than one hit.
The wins set up a showdown on Friday at home against undefeated Chippewa Hills.
“I think they (Chippewa Hills) come in 14-0,” Nicholson said.