Times Staff Reporter
CLAY CITY -- One night after defeating eighth-ranked North Central, the Clay City softball team was upset by an upstart Shakamak squad, which ended the Eels season with a 1-0, nine-inning victory.
The game was the very definition of a pitchers' duel, as Clay City's Shelby Targett and Shakamak's Mikayla Crane both delivered complete game gems. Both pitchers allowed only three hits with two walks over nine innings. Targett struck out seven, while Crane fanned nine.
Targett and her defense were masterful throughout, getting out of several tough jams. In the third inning, the Lakers had runners on second and third with one out and Targett was facing a 3-0 count. But, she battled back, earning a strike out and flyout on consecutive at bats. Shakamak also put runners in scoring position in the fourth and sixth, but came away empty handed.
While pitching and defense were solid throughout, runs were impossible to come by for Clay City. The lone offensive bright spot was Madison Sullivan, who had two of the team's three hits. Her second hit came after a frightening incident in the field, where Sullivan had a line drive ricochet off her glove and strike her in the face. Though briefly forced to leave for medical attention, Sullivan returned before having to miss any action.
The Eels' biggest threat came in the fifth, when their first two hitters got on base. However, the threat was quickly neutralized after back-to-back force outs at third and a line out to second.
The game stayed scoreless until the ninth. Shakamak's Leah Keller led off the inning with a walk, and reached third after a sacrifice bunt and a fielder's choice. Keller came around after a Targett pitch got by catcher Tasha Collenbaugh, scoring the game's only run.
Not surprisingly, in a game where it took nearly two hours for the first run to be scored, it did not come without controversy. Keller did not slide into home and appeared to step back, creating the impression she may have missed the bag.
Though close, the call stood. Clay City coach Roger Rhodes was very critical of the game's umpires, saying there were numerous calls he felt were incorrect, and could be seen yelling at the umpires as they left the field. Despite his complaints, Rhodes would not hold the crew responsible for his team's loss.
"You don't ever want to get in a predicament where an umpire decides the game," Rhodes said. "I thought they missed three or four calls, but we've still got to score runs."
Though he was disappointed, Rhodes expressed glowing optimism for the future of his squad. Clay City will be returning all but two players from this season's 15-12 squad, and Rhodes was excited for what the future holds for his squad.
"This was a tough loss, but life goes on," Rhodes said. "We are going to work hard this summer, and come back strong next season. We had a good season, and we'll be back."
Shakamak will play in the sectional final tonight, at 5 p.m., against WRV, which defeated Union 9-2.
At Clay City
Shakamak 1 Clay City 0
2B- CC (Sullivan)