A flurry of fielding miscues came back to haunt Reed. The RHS club committed three costly errors. They all came in the first inning and they all hurt the Raiders' chances of winning. After the Raiders scratched out a run in the top of the first, Centennial answered with four runs, only one earned, as Reed committed its trio of errors in the frame.
Maddie Henzlik reached on an error and then the Raiders could not field Mia Acuna's sacrifice bunt, resulting in a second error and leaving Bulldogs on first and second. Heather Bowen singled to score Henzlik and tied the game at 1-1. Savannah Horvath followed with a two-run double, making the score 3-1.
Sertic induced a couple flyouts to center field and it looked like Reed might get out of the inning without further damage. That wasn't the case as Lauren Stroman reached on Reed's third error of the inning. That snafu let Horvath score the final Centennial run in the inning.
"I wish we could have that first inning back," said a frustrated Reed coach Jon Wunder. "That's the way the ball bounces sometimes."
Down 4-1, Reed rallied to knot the game at fours in the third inning. Marriah Levesque and Mary Dettling opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Mackenzie Goins followed and smoked a ball into center field that plated Levesque. When the ball was misplayed in the outfield, Dettling cruised home and Goins moved up to second. Lindsay Yearman proceeded to rip a double to left field that brought Goins plateward.
Centennial (33-7) wound up pushing across its game-winning run in the fifth. Henzlik singled and moved up a base on a wild pitch. She came plateward when Bowen bashed a double into the gap in right-center field.
Reed (28-8-3) took the early lead with its first-inning score. Cassy Walsh reached on a slap single and circled the sacks after a Levesque sacrifice bunt, wild pitch and Dettling single.
"It was a see-saw battle," Centennial coach Mike Livreri said. "They scored first. Then we scored some runs and looked pretty good. Then they rally to tie it up. Reed's a tough team. They do not go away and we knew that. We've played them three times in the last two state tournaments and the games have been decided by four runs.
"Their pitching and defense settled in. We just got the key hit. It was a big hit in a big spot."
Still, Centennial, known for its prowess at the plate, was out-hit by Reed 9-5. Dettling and Levesque both had a pair of hits for the Raiders.
"We were very confident we could hit the ball," Wunder said. "Even down a few runs, we were always confident we could put the bat on the ball."
Despite the early deficit, Raiders hurler Jackie Sertic kept her team in the game. She had to throw 36 pitches in the first inning after Reed gave Centennial the three extra outs. But she only threw 30 over the next three innings combined in helping the Raiders' offense stay within striking distance.
However, she was still saddled with the tough-luck loss. The junior right-hander was tagged for the five runs but only two were earned. She limited the Bulldogs, who had scored 10 runs or more in their four previous postseason games, to just their five hits. She struck out four without issuing a walk in the complete game.
"That pitch they got the go-ahead run on was supposed to be outside the zone," Wunder said. "Jackie missed her spot and the girl made a good swing on it like good hitters do. But Jackie did a great job. I'm proud of her. The fact that she didn't get rattled, which would have been easy to do when our defense let her down, just says a lot."
The Raiders won the D-1 North title last week by battling back through the losers' bracket after losing their first-round regional playoff. They'll have to go through the losers' bracket again if they want to win a state championship.
That road starts Friday with a 1:30 p.m. game against Sunrise Region champion Green Valley (23-10), a 4-2 loser to Palo Verde in the state tourney's other first-round affair.
"We feel we can come back," Wunder said. "We just did it last week."