By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald Writer
ADA - The late inning magic for the Ada softball team continued Monday evening.
The Lady Bulldogs rallied for four runs in the final two innings and defeated visiting Lima Central Catholic on a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh by junior Alexis Gonzaga to take their mutual Northwest Conference opener in dramatic fashion, 5-4.
"In high school sports you have to believe you come back," said Bulldog head coach Ken Jochims. "We are getting that mentality now. Alexis (Gonzaga) has been clutch all year. After the other night at McComb, it was nice to square some balls up and hit them hard."
Ada junior third sacker Katelyn Guagenti started the seventh inning rally by crushing a high fly to deep left-center field that glanced off the wall for a leadoff double. Maddie Pinks pinch-ran and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Cosette Brodeur.
Ashley Sumner then sliced a line single just in front of the right fielder to drive in Pinks and tie it, 4-4. Sumner stole second and catcher Ashley Windle received an intentional walk.
After a strikeout, Gonzaga stepped up with two out. On a 1-2 pitch, she crushed a drive deep to the left-center field gap to knock in Sumner with the winning run.
"Katelyn got a big hit to get us started, then Ashley got another big hit to keep it going and tie it," said Jochims.
LCC jumped ahead quickly 2-0 in the first inning, but then Lady Bulldog sophomore hurler Alexis Amburgey settled down and allowed only two runs the rest of the way to earn a complete-game win.
"Alexis did an amazing job keeping us in the game after they scored those first inning runs," said Jochims.
In the top of the fourth, LCC threatened to blow it open as the first two hitters reached on singles. But first baseman Sam Wildman made a diving catch of a bunt try, the next batter popped out to Guagenti and Amburgey snared a liner back up the middle to quell the threat.
In the bottom of the fourth, Ada halved the deficit. After the first two batters struck out, Amburgey smashed a line single past the third sacker into left field. She stole second base and then came around to score when Kaylee Spangler smacked a solid RBI single to center field to make it 2-1.
"Kaylee had a big RBI hit for our first run with two out," Jochims pointed out.
The Thunderbirds edged ahead 3-1 with a run in the top of the fifth. In the sixth, they began the frame with a double to right-center by pitcher Meredith Shepherd. She later came home on a sacrifice fly to center field. Catcher Ashley Windle ended the inning by gunning down a would-be base stealer with a fine throw to second.
Ada then got back in the game with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Windle drew a four-pitch walk and Douce beat out a bunt single. Both moved up a base with heady base-running when the first sacker tried to gun down Windle at third after Douce narrowly beat the throw to first.
"Trista had a huge bunt there," said Jochims.
Gonzaga grounded out hard to shortstop as the runners held, but Wildman then stroked a solid double to right-center to plate both and bring the hosts within 4-3. Shepherd wriggled out of the inning with no further damage on two pop-outs.
Amburgey retired the T-Birds in order in the seventh on a nice change-up whiff, a foul pop-out to Guagenti and a foul out to Windle to set up the heroics in the bottom of the seventh.
Ada and Amburgey evened their record at 3-3 overall and 1-0 in the NWC with the comeback win. LCC fell to 1-4 and 0-1 in the league with the tough defeat.
Amburgey scattered nine hits, gave up three earned runs, walked four and struck out four in seven innings. Hard-luck losing pitcher Shepherd whiffed five and allowed five earned runs on eight hits.
"We haven't come through every time, but we are doing enough good things to win," summed up Jochims. "It was nice to get our first win in league play. It is huge to get a win in that first conference game."
Tessa Coulson added the other Ada single. LCC out-hit the Bulldogs 9-8.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
LCC 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 4 9 1
Ada 0 0 0 1 0 2 2 5 8 2
WP-Amburgey (3-3) LP-Shepherd
2B-Wildman (A), Gonzaga (A), Shepherd (L)
Ada (3-3) hosts non-league foe Ottoville Tuesday. They then resume league play at Bluffton (2-4) Thursday.