EFFINGHAM — If the comeback win is en vogue, then the Centralia Orphan Annies should be models on a runway in Paris.
Time and time again throughout this season, the Annies have dug themselves a hole, much like they did on Wednesday against the Triad Lady Knights in the first semifinal game of the Effingham Class 3A Sectional.
And, just as they have seemed to do more often than not, the Annies found a way to leave with a victory.
Freshman Shaelyn Lawson's two-run double in the fifth inning scored Bekah Brooks and Ashton Doza with the tying and winning runs as Centralia, once down 4-0, came back to edge past the Lady Knights by a 5-4 final.
The win was a record-setting 24th for the Annies, who face either Mattoon or Belleville Althoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the sectional championship. Those two teams meet today at Effingham High School in the other semifinal game.
"I'm proud of them for what they have done," said Centralia head coach Mallory Ruggles. "But it would be nice if we could start a game little better. This has been the story of our season. They know we would like to get in the driver's seat and stay there, but you can't get upset with a team that doesn't quit. This team never quits."
The Lady Knights did all of their scoring on six hits in the second inning against Centralia hurler Jessica Feig. Triad starter Kelsey Bailey launched a two-run home run and Any Hunt and Kaci Overgoenner had RBI hits later in the inning.
Against Bailey, the Annies (24-10) got one of those runs back in the third and two more in the fourth before taking the lead against Triad reliever Jenn Bailey in the fifth. Brooks and Doza each singled with one out to set the table for Lawson, who then shot a Bailey pitch into the gap in right-centerfield to bring home Brooks and Doza without a play.
And while Lawson's hit was crucial, it was a defensive play made by Centralia centerfielder Raigen Schwartz which had turned the tide of the game to the Annies' favor in the bottom of the fourth.
With an infield hit, a walk and a hit batter, Triad had loaded the bases against Feig with one out. Overgoenner then whistled a sinking line drive to centerfield that was caught in sliding fashion by Schwartz, who then got up and threw a strike to second base to double off Mycala Feldman for an inning-ending, double play.
"That was a great play," Triad head coach Kris Kleeman said. "You've got some young girls on the team and at the time, we had three sophomores on the bases and a sophomore up to bat. Those things happen, especially in high-pressure situations. This is a learning experience for the younger players. Half my lineup is sophomores. Those are all great things you can build on, but for the right now, it's disheartening."
After the rough second inning, Feig allowed only the infield single by Nikki Steiner in the fourth the rest of the way. She finished the contest with four strikeouts against one walk and a hit batter.
"She had the one inning and I jumped her a little bit," Ruggle said. "But she's responded every time I have done that. A lot of freshman when they get hollered at by their coach, especially a hitter, are going to think about too much and press too much. But she played her game and I'm very proud of how she finished the game today (Feig retired the final 10 Triad hitters she faced in succession)."
Brooks finished 3 for 4 for the Annies, who also got two hits each from Doza and Rachel Tockstein in an 11-hit attack.
A win on Saturday will give the Annies their second sectional title in program history. The other came in 1988.