By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald Writer
ADA - Up until the last out of the seventh, Hardin Northern sophomore hurler Addy Bame was cruising along with a seven-run shutout lead in their annual season-opening county rivalry battle at Ada Monday evening in the cold.
Then with the help of some timely hitting and HN miscues amid the frigid wind, the plucky Lady Bulldogs rallied for four two-out runs in the bottom of the seventh to make things quite interesting.
But Bame stayed composed and after several foul balls in a hard-fought at bat by spunky Ada catcher Ashley Windle, struck her out with two runners on base to preserve a 7-4 win Monday in their traditional softball opener.
"We couldn't quite close it out after getting the first two outs," said Northern head coach Jeff Hunt about the wild bottom of the seventh. "We played pretty well up until the last inning."
"Our pitching was good enough," said first-year Ada mentor Ken Jochims. "We have to put the ball in play. We are not going to score lots of runs in bunches."
Bame was sailing along in the bottom of the seventh toward an apparently easy shutout after a strikeout and grounder moved her Lady Polar Bears within one out of victory.
But then Ada rallied. Junior Alexis Gonzaga smacked a solid double to right-center to start the uprising. Pinch hitter Ashley Sumner followed by drilling an RBI single to left field that got the Bulldogs on the new softball scoreboard.
"Sumner got us going with that hit," said Jochims. "We got some better at bats as the game went on. We are so inexperienced, we need confidence at the plate."
Senior Cosette Brodeur looped another run-scoring single to shallow center field to plate promising freshman Sumner and make it 7-2. Junior Madison Pinks grounded to third but reached on a throwing error by the Bears, and Brodeur came around to score to cut the deficit to four.
Ada sophomore hurler Alexis Amburgey then lifted a fly ball into the wind in left field, and after it briefly appeared to be caught, the ball fell out of the hard-charging outfielder's glove and Pinks scored to inch the hosts within 7-4.
Senior Sam Wildman then hammered a hard ground single off the second baseman to bring the tying run to the plate with runners on first and second. But after a lengthy battle, Windle went down looking on a Bame fastball on the outside corner to end the comeback.
"We got behind 4-0 early, which made it hard to take chances on the bases," said Jochims. "We have to do a better job of getting ahead early."
HN scored its first run on a one-out RBI grounder to second base in the top of the second.
Wildman and Windle both singled to start the Ada half of the second frame. But Bame bore down to get a whiff and a pop-out to third. Gonzaga then drilled a long drive to center field that was caught to end the scoring threat.
HN added three runs in the top of the third thanks in part to shaky Ada defense. Brodeur dropped a fly ball to center to start the inning. A bloop single to left was followed by a solid RBI ht to left by Rebecca McElree to make it 2-0.
After a Bame strikeout, first sacker London Crist beat out a grounder to second that was misplayed to make it 3-0. Northern then pushed across another run on an RBI sacrifice bunt to take a 4-0 advantage.
In the top of the fifth, Bame hammered a solo home run over the right-center fence to extend the margin to 5-0. "We missed our spot, got it out over the plate and she drove it," explained Jochims. Ada went hitless in the fifth and sixth innings to set up the eventful final inning.
The Lady Bears plated a pair of what seemed like innocent runs in the top of the seventh, but they turned out to be big insurance tallies. A walk and a steal opened the seventh. Catcher Leah Rowe then crushed a run-scoring triple to right-center field to make it 6-0.
Bame followed by stroking a double over Brodeur's head in center that built the lead to 7-0.
Bame hurled a complete game without giving up an earned run, and also hit a homer and RBI double. Rowe added two singles and two RBI with a triple.
Bame struck out eight hitters in seven frames.
Wildman led the Ada offense with two singles. Amburgey struck out five and walked a pair over seven innings. The game was played amid temperatures in the mid-30s and wind chills in the 20s.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
HN 0 1 3 0 1 0 2 7 8 3
Ada 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 4 6 4
WP-Bame (1-0) LP-Amburgey (0-1)
2B-Bame (HN), Gonzaga (A)
Ada (0-1) plays at another non-league county foe in Ridgemont Tuesday. Amburgey will likely pitch again against the Gophers. The Bulldogs then face Perry Wednesday and host Cory-Rawson Thursday.
HN hosts Perry in their home opener Tuesday. "They will be tough and improved," said Hunt. "They have a good pitcher back in (Kaylee) Patton so we will see her."