MARIETTA — Jessica Dunn wanted no part of the loser’s bracket.
With the score tied 5-5 in the top of the sixth inning, Dunn blasted a three-run home run over the left field fence to lift Forsyth Central to a 9-5 win over Kell in the Region 7-AAAAA tournament at Al Bishop Park on Wednesday night.
The home run completed a rally that the Lady Bulldogs started after falling behind 3-0. Earlier in the night, Central defeated Riverwood 2-1 in the opening round of the tournament.
"Somehow [Kell] ran into trouble where they couldn’t throw strikes and Jessica all of a sudden just crushed it," Central head coach Bill Richardson said. "[The comeback] was huge. You talk about wanting to be tough and persevere.
"We’ve come a long way from a year ago, just miles and miles from a year ago."
Central trailed 5-3 going into the top of the sixth.
Carrlyn Kiser reached first base on an error by the pitcher and Naomi Chance drew a walk to start the sixth.
After a wild pitch advanced both runners, Lexi Bump drove in a run and confused the Kell defense by getting in a rundown that allowed Chance to cross the plate for the first two runs of the inning.
Taylor Alton and Rachel Karlan kept the rally alive with a pair of singles before Dunn’s home run capped off a five-run inning to give Forsyth Central (14-14, 6-4) an 8-5 lead.
Kell jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after Natalie Parlato hit an RBI double in the first inning and Allie Sheffield knocked in a run with a single before Ashley Hendrick scored on a wild pitch.
With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning, Central’s Alexa Hull found a gap for an RBI single and kept the bases full for Kiser, who drew a walk to score a run. Chance then tied the game at 3-3 with a sacrifice fly.
The Longhorns responded in the bottom half of the frame when Hannah McKinley took third base on a wild pitch and proceeded to score on a failed pickoff attempt at third. Jill Torres added to the lead in the fifth inning with an RBI single, putting Kell up 5-3 before the Lady Bulldogs tallied five runs in the sixth.
With the score 8-5 in the seventh inning, Hull added an insurance run when she scored on a wild pitch, making the score 9-5.
Kell threatened by loading the bases in the bottom of the inning, but Kiser (7 IP, 4 K, 7 BB, 5 H, 2 ER) forced a groundout to the shortstop that stopped a potential comeback.
It didn’t take long for Central to score in the first game of the day. Bump crossed the plate on a Dunn RBI single and Marisa Hull singled her home after she stole second base to make the score 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning.
Riverwood’s only run came in the top of the seventh when Neale Madden scored on an RBI single. The Raiders had runners on first and second with only one out, but pitcher Caroline Thomas (7 IP, 2 K, 5 H, 1 ER) stranded both runners after a fly out and a game-ending strikeout to beat Riverwood 2-1.
Central was scheduled to play Sequoyah on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The winner of that game is guaranteed a state playoff berth, while the loser must win one game in the loser’s bracket at 5:30 on Friday to play in the state tournament.