Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Through four innings, the Clay City Eels were going toe-to-toe with Bloomfield and pitcher Nicole Hughes in a scoreless deadlock. From there, however, the defense unraveled with five errors over the final three innings and the Cardinals took advantage for a 7-1 SWIAC victory.
Hughes did her part as well, holding Clay City hitless through the first six innings while striking out 16 overall.
"A couple of bad plays and a couple of hits and when we can't hit the ball, we're done," Clay City head coach Roger Rhodes said. "I told the team (it's getting close to sectional). North Central is the best team in the sectional and we had them down 8-4 in the bottom of the seventh. We've got to beat WRV and then Dugger."
Clay City freshman pitcher, Whitney Jeffers, held Bloomfield to a pair of singles over the first four frames and the defense stood tall, turning a double play in the third inning on a liner to first base.
The fifth inning started out innocently enough in the fifth inning as Bloomfield started off with a base hit by Mikayla Myers. Jeffers coaxed a grounder to second for the first out of the inning. Paige Shirley hit a sharp grounder to third base man Alex Wolfe, but her throw to first base was in the dirt and Shirley reached safely and the runners moved into scoring position.
The Eels nearly got out of the inning as Skyler Wappas laid down a bunt in front of the plate, but was thrown out without a runner scoring. With two outs, Kendra Spelts hit a sinking line drive to centerfield. Clay City's Shaya Stevenson slipped on her initial jump to the ball and then was forced to dive, unsuccessfully, for the liner. Two runs scored and Bloomfield seized control of the game.
Hughes followed by reaching on a second throwing error and Danielle Sichting served a double into right centerfield to score two more runs.
The 4-0 lead turned out to be plenty for Hughes, who struck out the side twice and held the Eels to just a pair of walks over the first six innings.
Clay City would finally get on the board in the seventh inning as Madison Booe led off with a triple to rightfield and came around to score on an RBI groundout by Allie Miller. Chelsea Finchum followed with a base hit, but Hughes struck out Wolfe to end the game.
"The ability is there, but we can't do it for them," Rhodes said. "They've got to want it, and some of them do want it, but sometimes the effort isn't there and it looks like they are going through the motions."
Clay City hosts Eastern (Greene) on Thursday evening at 5 p.m.
At Clay City
2B -- BL (Sichting).