September 2, 2009 10:11:00 AM
Beware the sneak attack.
The Central Academy fast-pitch softball team can''t pinpoint its origin.
The Lady Vikings never know when it''s going to come.
But when the sneak attack arrives, hits are sure to follow.
On Tuesday, scorekeeper/assistant coach Pam Dawkins provided the fuse and Corey Dawkins, Kellie Hailey, and Blake Rigdon helped light the fire that sparked the Lady Vikings'' sneak attack.
Dawkins, Hailey, and Rigdon had run-scoring hits in a five-run fifth inning that helped Central Academy defeat Heritage Academy 9-4 in a non-district game.
The rally erased a slow start that saw the Lady Vikings (15-4) fall behind 4-1.
Not only did Central Academy start slowly, but it also played and watched quietly until the third inning.
That''s when Pam Dawkins tried to liven up the dugout before the Lady Vikings hit in the top of the third. She attempted to start a cheer but was greeted by -- to be generous -- lukewarm response.
Dawkins wasn''t satisfied and chastised the players for their lack of enthusiasm.
The prodding must have worked because Lillian Lindsey scored in the third thanks to a single by Marion Colvin.
"My wife had a little talk with them over there, and I think it fired them up a little bit," Central Academy co-coach Pres Hawkins said.
In the fourth, Central Academy used a walk to Veronica Rodriguez, two groundouts, and a single by Rigdon and a double by Kendall Taylor to tie the score at 4-4.
"We got a little aggressive at the end and once I could see the fire in the girls crank up I will send them home (on a hit and run)," said Dawkins, who coaches third base. "Sometimes the pitching slows them down in the first couple of innings but they bounce back off that. The girls come through and persevere."
Cue the sneak attack.
A line drive by Julianna Persons nearly ended the fifth before the rally started, but pitcher Kristyn Atkins couldn''t throw to the right base fast enough to record the final out of the inning.
Central Academy took advantage. After shaking her head in disagreement on a called strike two, Corey Dawkins, a left-handed slap hitter, regrouped and accomplished her goal: She hit the ball. Her slap darted inside the third-base line and allowed Alex Dawkins to score from second with the go-ahead run.
"My hitting usually comes around when I am under pressure, so I wanted to hit," Dawkins said. "Fair, on the ground, somewhere -- I wanted to hit it to get the runs in. As soon as I got that hit I knew everybody was going to get a hit. That is how our team works."
From there, the Lady Vikings attacked en masse and with a lot of enthusiasm. Hailey blooped a double that scored two runs, Rigdon followed with a single that scored another, and Taylor''s flyball went for an error that allowed the final run to score.
Taylor said Pam Dawkins'' encouragement in the third inning helped spark the team. She said the team got back into the game once it started to cheer, and the hitting proved to be the contagion.
"We do that sometimes (look like a different team in the same game)," Taylor said. "It has been like that a couple of games. We call it our sneak attack. That''s what we do when we come back like that."
Heritage Academy failed to score in the bottom half of the inning and the game was called because it had reached its time limit.
Central Academy''s fast start erased the Lady Patriots'' solid showing early.
Heritage Academy was coming off a district victory Monday against Lee Academy in which coach Ginny Lowery said the team played an "awesome" game.
On Tuesday, the Lady Patriots committed committed four errors and had just five hits against four pitchers. The late arrival of third baseman Jessee Mims (double, RBI on Tuesday) and shortstop Morgan Lamb (single) from a soccer loss to the Washington School didn''t give the softball team much time to prepare, but Lowery said the Lady Patriots have to be more consistent.
"We have little kinks to work out as far as hitting our cutoffs and knowing where to throw the ball," Lowery said. "We seem to get lazy when we get up and we don''t play to our level."
The Lady Patriots rallied in the final inning last week to beat Hebron Christian 4-3. Earlier in the season, Heritage Academy handled Hebron Christian 8-1 in Columbus.
Lowery said the ups and downs are part of having a young team. Despite having five seniors, she said the team needs to learn lessons like the one it experienced Tuesday night.
"It is kind of like we get comfortable," Lowery said. "(Recently) we have played just enough to get it done. We''re not playing at the level I know we can."
Casey Taylor also had two hits, Atkins had the other hit, and Shiloh Ellis had the other RBI for Heritage Academy.
Meanwhile, Central Academy will continue to search for a way to turn loose the rhythm of a sneak attack for an entire game every game.
"We just have to be on our game and have it on our mind and get pumped up from the get-go to the end," Hailey said. "
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.