CLAY CITY -- The North Central Ladybirds used timely hitting and a strong pitching effort from Sierra Taft to down the Clay City Eels 9-2 on Monday night.
The Ladybirds got to starting Eel pitcher Kari Bettenbrock for four runs in just two innings of work and added three late, unearned runs to cement a victory.
The Eels managed just a pair of runs in the fifth inning off Taft who allowed just three hits over the first four frames. However it took a heads up defensive play by the Ladybird's centerfielder in the second inning to keep Clay City off the board.
Angela Ewer led off the inning with a double to rightcenterfield, bringing Kasi Thatcher to the plate.
Thatcher would line the ball to shallow centerfield but North Central's centerfielder laid out to snag the liner and quickly threw to second base to double off Ewer. Amber Long walked before North Central ended the inning on a popout by Cameron Gerber.
The defensive play kept the Ladybirds ahead 2-0 heading to the third inning when they added to their lead with three runs off Bettenbrock and Rhodes.
An error and a single put runners on second and third base ending Bettenbrock's night on the mound. Rhodes relieved and was greeted by an Ali Stone single that scored Kristen Gentry. Emily Morrison then singled to bring home Jennifer Cox. A later Annika Dawson single would make the score 5-0.
With the score 6-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Eels got a lead off single from Cameron Gerber and a one-out slap single from Chelsee Gerber bringing Bettenbrock to the plate.
She would rip a single that plated both runners, but a fielder's choice grounder by Kendra Roe got the second out for the Ladybirds, but Taft would strikeout Ewer to end the inning.
North Central effectively clinched the game in the seventh inning when they capitalized on a pair of Clay City errors to add three more runs to their lead.
In the Eel's half of the seventh inning a leadoff single by Chelsee Gerber was nullified when a sharp single by Rhodes turned into a force play at second on another smart play by the Ladybird's centerfielder. Bettenbrock would reach on an error, but Ewer flied out to end the game.
The Eels (3-6 overall) will try to rebound with a victory tonight against Linton beginning at 4:30 p.m.
WP -- Taft (NC). LP -- Bettenbrock (CC)
HR -- Austin. 2B -- Clay City (Ewer). NC (Rogers, Austin).