CLAY CITY -- Defense wins games and oftentimes can help lose them as well.
For four innings on Tuesday evening, the Clay City Eels stood toe-to-toe with Class A's top-ranked Riverton Parke softball team, but the fifth inning proved decisive in a 7-0 defeat.
Keri Bettenbrock handled the Panthers on the mound, allowing just one hit over the first four frames and the Eel's defense made a stellar play to keep the game scoreless early on.
Christina Washington reached base on a bobbled grounder and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Crystal Brenton. Washington stole third base and the throw from catcher Amber Long went wide to left fielder Loni Rhodes.
However, Rhodes made a strong throw home and Long snagged the throw and did an excellent job blocking the plate to secure the third out and keep the game scoreless.
Meanwhile the Eels threatened with two outs in the third inning as Chelsee Gerber singled to rightfield and Rhodes walked. But Panther pitcher Ashley Loomis set down Bettenbrock on strikes.
The Panthers finally broke through on the scoreboard in the fifth inning as Washington walked and moved to second when a force attempt on a Brenton grounder was bobbled at second base.
The play would prove costly since the Eels still had just one out with runners on first and second base instead of having two outs and a single runner on first.
Washington and Brenton would both move into scoring position on another error and when Jennifer Gravil walked, the bases were loaded with one out.
An Amber Porter grounder squeezed through the Clay City infield, scoring Washington for the first run of the game. Brenton would make the score 2-0 when a throw home on a Brenton grounder, was dropped at the plate.
Instead of being out of the inning with just one run being scored, the Panthers added one more run when Loomis' grounder to third was misplayed and Gravil scored.
The Panthers added another run in the sixth inning before the Eels set up their most serious offensive threat.
Rhodes walked to open the inning and Bettenbrock hit a sharp grounder to second base that was misplayed. Both runners were safe and Rhodes moved to third on the throw to first base.
Kendra Roe then grounded to Loomis on the mound who threw to first for one out and the return throw to home plate got Rhodes trying to score. The Eels threat was over and the Panthers finally got to Bettenbrock for four hits in the top of the seventh inning to cap the scoring in the game.
Bettenbrock allowed just three hits through the first six innings, seven for the game, while walking three and striking out a pair.
Loomis struckout 10 batters in the two-hit shutout for the Panthers who have lost just once this season.
Clay City will face off with Turkey Run on Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
Clay City Softball
At Clay City
WP -- Loomis. LP -- Bettenbrock.
Clay City (3-4 overall) will host Turkey Run on Saturday at 11 a.m.