Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- One season ago, Clay City rode the freshman pitching of Shelby Targett to a sectional championship.
This year, the Union Bulldogs appear to be using the same formula in their own bid for a title.
The Bulldogs' frosh hurler, Ashli Scott, handcuffed the Eels, holding Clay City to just two hits in winning 2-0 and advancing to the sectional championship game on Thursday evening.
The contest showed just how fine the line is between a first round loss and a sectional title.
Both pitchers kept the opposition off balance as Targett struck out 12 batters and allowed just three hits. Scott struck out nine in her start in the circle and worked around three walks. But the Bulldogs got a key hit when they needed it and took advantage of the Eels' lone fielding mistake of the game to add an insurance run in the win.
Clay City coach Roger Rhodes spoke about how opportunity plays a large role in winning a title following his team's loss.
"We had opportunities, but just came up short," said Rhodes. "That's the thing about softball. Sometimes it's not how talented you are, but it's about getting the breaks."
Union took advantage of its first break in the fourth frame when Scott led off the inning by drawing a walk. Targett got the next two hitters via strikeout, but Cassie Parr brought her home by drilling a one-hop double off the centerfield fence.
The Bulldogs added another run the following inning as Aedria Swan singled to leftfield to begin the inning.
Shayna Nicol followed with a grounder to second base, but the throw to first pulled the fielder off the bag and pinch-runner Kaila Boyd went to third base with no outs.
Targett got KaKaylee Pirtle via strikeout, but Whitni Scott hit a sharp grounder off Targett and then beat the throw to first base.
Boyd scored on the play to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 advantage.
That was more than enough for Scott on the mound, who was able to get out of the only real trouble she had to endure in the sixth inning.
Earlier this season, the Eels parlayed several Union errors in a fateful sixth inning, into a 5-4 victory.
This time, the Bulldogs' defense held fast.
With one out, Mardi Steiner and Tasha Collenbaugh each reached via a walk from Scott and Kayla Baumgartner laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases. Scott however, got Angie Camp on strikes and then coaxed a grounder out of Emily Reed to end the threat with no damage done.
"We hit her, but just couldn't get the big hit," said Rhodes. "She was on tonight," said Rhodes of the Bulldogs freshman pitcher.
Clay City had one more opportunity, putting Chelsea Hane on base in the seventh inning following Scott's third walk. She then moved into scoring position, but with two outs, Scott got pinch-hitter Sloan Miller to strikeout ending the game.
Clay City's seniors, Hane, Camp, Reed, Baumgartner, Steiner and Withrow, won 37 games the past two seasons and conclude this year with a 17-5 mark.
Class A Clay City Sectional
2B -- Un (Parr). SB -- CC (Camp).