It might not have been the way that the Girard 11-12 All-Star softball team wanted to start the Little League Central Regional tournament, but they were able to come back in solid form.

It might not have been the way that the Girard 11-12 All-Star softball team wanted to start the Little League Central Regional tournament, but they were able to come back in solid form.
On Monday, Girard opened up with Sterling (Ill.) Little League. A five-run sixth inning closed the door on a 9-3 loss for Girard to start pool play. But they were able to rebound with a 3-1 win over Russell-Flatwood Little League of Kentucky.
“It was a tough loss,” said Girard assistant coach Randy Heatherly. “Haydn (Herlocker) threw a heck of a ball game but they had sticks up and down their line up.”
GIrard took a 3-1 lead into the fourth inning and, with bases loaded. Carly Heatherly hit a line drive down the third base line, but Sterling’s third baseman reached out to make the catch.
“Another inch or slower reaction and that would have cleared the bases and given us a 6-1 lead,” Heatherly said.
In the bottom of the fourth, Girard ran into some fielding problems.
“They are the most impressive team over there,” Randy Heatherly said. “We played solid softball but we had four errors in a row in the fourth and the floodgates just seemed to open up.”
Girard had another opportunity to score in the fifth but were unable to score.
Then came the sixth.
Sterling came through with five runs on five base hits in the last inning to put the game away.
“We still had a chance but they were able to put one up to take the lead,” said Randy Heatherly. “They just started to rip it harder and harder in the last inning.”
That left Randy Heatherly and fellow Girard coach Hank Smith to wonder about their next game early on Tuesday.
“We were wondering how the girls would react after the loss,” Heatherly said.
However, Girard starting pitcher Ashley Johnson battled her way out of three bases loaded jams and held Russell-Flatwoods Little League of Kentucky to just one run on six hits as Girard moved to 1-1 in pool play with a 3-1 win.
Girard started down 1-0 into the fourth when Hannah Jones led off with a double to left center field and Johnson followed with a single, then stole second.
Tristian Broce laid down a squeeze bunt that scored Jones and moved Johnson to third with one out.
Lauren Davied hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Johnson and put Girard up 2-1.
Girard added another run in the fifth when Carly Heatherly laid down a bunt and Madison Smith hit a shot to outfield that scored Herlocker and gave Girard a 3-1 lead.
Girard had more opportunities to score in the fifth, but mistakes on the base pads only gave the Trojans one run to show.
“We had some base running blunders and those were my fault,” Heatherly said.
Kentucky loaded the bases in the sixth but Johnson forced three consecutive ground balls to end the game.
Now, Girard will face Appleton (Wis.) Little League at 12 p.m. A win automatically moves Girard into bracket play which begins Friday. A loss and there could be a situation where there is a three-way tie for a spot in bracket play and the deciding factor will be defensive runs allowed.

Little League Central Regional tournament
at Carthage, Mo.
Monday, July 28
Sterling (Ill.) Little League 9, Girard (Kans.) Little League 3
Girard        111 000 — 3 6 6
Sterling    100 215 — 9 8 2
Girard: Haydn Herlocker and Hannah Jones. Sterling: Aponte, Rahn (5), Kester (6) and Hendricks. 2B — Sterling: Kester, Rahn 2, Hendricks. HR — Sterling: Kester.
Tuesday, July 29
Girard (Kans.) Little League 3, Russell-Flatwoods (Kent.) Little League 1
Girard        000 210 — 3 9 2
Russell    010 000 — 1 6 1
Girard: Ashley Johnson and Hannah Jones. Russell-Flatwoods: Mallory Powell and Arden Gross. 2B — Girard: Hannah Jones. Russell-Flatwoods: Hope Panslay.