BELTON — In true all-star game fashion, the runs came in bunches and in plentiful supply in the early going of Friday’s Super Centex Victory Bowl softball game, put on by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Dee Dillon Field.

Then they slowed considerably.

After both teams combined for seven runs through the first two innings, the slugfest inched to a crawl as Red held on through the middle innings and then tacked on another three runs late in an 8-4 win over Blue in the annual exhibition game, which featured 24 players from 22 different Central Texas schools.

Bremond's Kylee Pierce, who started in the circle for Red, promptly gave herself a two-run cushion when she launched a high home run down the left-field line to score Troy’s Layni Tanner, who drew a walk and stole second off Blue starter Kate Houser (Lorena) to lead off the bottom of the first.

The lead proved to be short-lived, though.

A trio of area players helped Blue quickly erase the deficit with three runs in the second, one of which came in a rather unconventional manner.

With one out, Cameron Yoe’s Mia Wimmer got things started with a line-drive single up the middle to give Blue its first hit off Pierce, who retired the first four batters she faced.

Academy’s SunnyDale Thies then reached on an error and Killeen High’s Landry Searcy walked to load the bases and bring up Florence’s Kylie Bliton, who sliced a short pop-up behind the plate on a 3-2 count that Red catcher Cadence Hopgood (Italy) dove and laid out near the visitor’s on-deck circle to reach before squeezing just enough to make the snow-cone catch.

With no one covering home plate, however, Wimmer smartly tagged up from third, darting down the line to score her team’s first run. Thies and Searcy subsequently scored on RBI singles from Katie Branch (Bosqueville) and Kenadee Lynch (Kerens), respectively, to make for a 3-2 Blue lead.

Again, though, the advantage was short-lived.

Red responded in its half of the second, which Belton product McKenzie Drake started off with an infield hit and stolen base before scoring on Maddison Uptmor’s bloop single into shallow right to tie the game at 3. Uptmor (West) later scored on a passed ball to provide Red with a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Pierce gave up no more runs, picking up the win while striking out five in four innings before Kasandra Gaona sealed the win with three innings of one-run relief.

“It was a great opportunity to get another chance to play,” said Drake, who helped the Lady Tigers to the playoffs as District 12-6A’s third seed. “For it being my last game, I definitely wanted to enjoy it and have fun and make new friends. It was nice to meet new people.”

Drake was one of four area players to represent Red, along with Temple’s Chloe Prentiss, who went 1-for-3 with a single and steal; Tanner, who scored two runs; and Bruceville-Eddy’s Priscilla Alvarez, who had a walk, sac bunt and scored a run.

Prentiss, who batted second Friday, was a key part of Temple’s turnaround from second-to-last in District 12-6A in 2021 to a second-place finish last year, which pushed the Tem-Cats into the post-season for the first time since Prentiss’ freshman year.

She echoed Drake’s thoughts on simply enjoying the atmosphere.

“It felt real good, it’s nice to go out having a fun game to relax and not put so much pressure on yourself,” she said. “I had to come out of my comfort zone a little bit. I wasn’t really worried much about a win or loss but it’s definitely nice to get the win.”

Still trailing by a run in the fourth, Wimmer again singled with one out and advanced to third when Thies followed by reaching on a two-base error. But the duo was left in scoring position after Pierce got the next two batters.

Drake, who batted leadoff and played center field for Belton, reached safely in each of her plate appearances, drawing a one-out walk in the fourth, when Red tacked on an insurance run after Rue Sheehan singled home Karyme Fuentes for a 5-3 edge.

Red then blew it open with a three-run sixth during which Alvarez walked, stole a base and scored on Tanner’s double, after which Tanner was brought home on Kylie Ray’s single.

Yoe’s Wimmer paced Blue’s five-hit attack and led all players with three hits, including a solo homer to the opposite field to right to finish off the scoring in the seventh.

Blue’s Brinly Burke, of Corsicana, was awarded the Gene Pemberton Servant Heart award following the game.

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