By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald Writer
ADA - Host Ada scored two runs in the sixth but their rally came up just shy in a 3-2 Northwest Conference varsity softball loss on a warm Tuesday evening to Paulding.
The Lady Bulldogs fell to 3-9 overall and 1-4 in the league while the Lady Panthers improved to 3-7 and 1-3 in the NWC after making the long trip.
"All three of their runs came after we made a bad play," explained Ada head coach Ken Jochims. "You can't give people extra outs. Paulding did more of the little things to win."
Paulding scored in the top of the first when the runner stole home on a first and third pickoff play.
In the top of the third frame, Bulldog senior Cosette Brodeur made a fine diving one-handed catch of a fly ball in short right field to keep the Panther runner at first base.
Then on a two-out double to left-center field, the Ada relay throw beat the runner home as catcher Asley Windle applied the tag in front of home plate on a minor collision to keep the deficit 1-0.
Ada threatened in the home half of the third. Katelyn Guagenti stroked a solid one-out single to center field, followed by a single to left by Windle.
However, Paulding wriggled out of trouble by getting a force-out on a grounder from shortstop to third, followed by an unassisted force at third on a grounder right to the bag.
In the top of the fourth, the Panthers doubled their lead on an outfield error and a two-out, run-scoring hit for a 2-0 margin.
In the fifth, Paulding collected two singles yet Ada hurler Alexis Amburgey stranded the runners on a fly out to center field.
In the bottom of the fifth, Guagenti slammed a double off the left field wall. But she was left there after a strikeout and to pop-outs.
Paulding added what turned out to be a key insurance run in the top of the sixth. A double and a wild pitch advanced the Panther baserunner to third with none out. Amburgey retired the next two hitters on a fly ball to shallow left and a strikeout, and appeared poised to get out of the jam.
But then on a two-strike pitch, Paulding pounded a double that one-hopped the wall in left to augment the lead to 3-0. Shortstop Quinn High made a nice fielding play and throw on a sharp grounder to end the frame.
Ada then got on the scoreboard in the home half of the sixth. Sam Wildman and Alexis Gonzaga each smacked identical singles to center field leading off the frame. Trista Douce advanced both runners with a good sacrifice bunt.
But then came a key, controversial out. After a strike to pinch-hitter Kaylee Spangler, Wildman appeared to beat a pick-off peg back to third from the Panther catcher but was called out when she didn't slide.
"That turned out to be a big play," admitted Jochims. "You can't put yourself in that position."
Spangler coaxed a walk and Brodeur pinch-ran for her. Megan Simon then hammered a high drive over the left fielder's head for a two-run double that pulled Ada within 3-2.
"Megan had a big hit again," noted Jochims.
Yet with the tying run in scoring position, Guagenti was retired on a pop-out to second base.
In the top of the seventh Paulding was thwarted in an attempt to add to their lead. Amburgey struck out the leadoff batter on a 3-2 pitch, followed by a pop fly single that fell behind second base.
Paulding then came up with a solid single up the middle, and two stolen bases later had runners on second and third. But Amburgey snared a liner right back to the pitching circle, narrowly missing a double play when the Panther runner dove back safely into third.
The next batter smashed a one-hopper to the right of High, but she back-handed it nicely and threw off balance to Wildman, who applied the tag at first to end the threat and keep the deficit at one run.
Ada was hoping for some of the late-inning rally magic it possessed early in the season, but Paulding retired the side in order to quell any thoughts of a comeback. Windle grounded out back to the pitcher, Ashley Sumner was called out on a critical 3-2 pitch and Amburgey flew out to center field to end the contest.
Guagenti led the seven-hit Ada offense with a double and single, while Simon collected both Bulldog RBIs on her two-bagger. Hard-hitting Wildman contributed a pair of singles.
Paulding smacked six doubles among their 10 hits.
"Katelyn made solid contact again," offered Jochims. "But we are getting back on the right track. We tried to make plays tonight on defense and most of the errors were physical, not mental."
Amburgey scattered 11 hits over seven innings and gave up only one earned run. She struck out four and walked one.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Pau 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 10 1
Ada 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 7 1
WP-Farr LP-Amburgey (3-8)
2B-Guagenti (A), Simon (A), Beck (P), Schmidt (P), Farr (P), Pease (P), Combs (P), Rue (P)
Ada tries to snap a six-game losing skid Wednesday vs. county rival Kenton. They resume NWC play Thursday when they play at conference and state powerhouse Crestview (9-6, 4-0 NWC), who is the only undefeated team left in the league.
The Lady Bulldogs end a busy week at Allen East (10-5, 2-2 NWC) Friday in a makeup league game against their backyard rival.
Drawing for the sectionals at USV will be held this Sunday at McGuffey.