With two former state players of the year ahead of her in the lineup, Lauren Stroman likely isn’t the most feared hitter on Centennial’s softball team. Yet.
More games like Saturday’s might change people’s perspective.
Stroman twice came up with the go-ahead run in scoring position and delivered both times to help the No. 1 Bulldogs to a 7-4 home win over No. 2 Palo Verde.
“We have to count on her,” Centennial coach Mike Livreri said. “She’s going to be up in big spots, and she came through big for us. Those were big at-bats.”
Stroman, a senior, was moved to the No. 5 position in the batting order this season, behind seniors Heather Bowen, the 2012 player of the year, and Savannah Horvath, the 2013 player of the year.
It’s simultaneously one of the most enviable and most pressure-packed spots in any lineup, as Stroman often comes up with runners on base.
“She knows why she’s there,” Livreri said. “She knows we have confidence in her.”
With the game tied at 4 and one out in the fifth inning, Horvath doubled, and Stroman fouled off a 1-2 pitch, then took a pitch for a ball before stroking a single into left to plate Horvath. Stroman later scored on Allison Riggs’ single.
In the third inning, Stroman broke a 2-2 tie with a one-out single to left that scored Bowen. Stroman finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs, including a first-inning sacrifice fly.
“I know that my team has my back, and all I have to do is hit the ball,” Stroman said. “I don’t feel pressure because even if I don’t produce, our whole lineup can do it. I wasn’t really thinking about it today.”
Bowen was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and Horvath went 2-for-4 with a double for Centennial (13-5). Riggs was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The Panthers (11-4) twice battled back from two-run deficits with Rachel Williams’ two-run home run in the fourth inning knotting the game at 4, but Jennifer Cerrone and Cheyenne Cudahy combined to allow one Panther to get as far as second base the rest of the way.
Cerrone, a sophomore, allowed seven hits and two earned runs in five innings before Cudahy threw two innings of hitless relief.
“That’s a confidence boost for (Cerrone),” said Livreri, whose team also beat Palo Verde 8-3 on March 25. “It was a big-time effort for her. This was kind of her first big challenge, and she handled it.”
Haley Harrison was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, and Brooke Stover went 2-for-4 for Palo Verde.
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at email@example.com or 702-387-5230.