SHELBYVILLE — Trailing 9-1 in the middle of the sixth inning Thursday night, the Columbus North softball team didn’t quit.
Although the Bull Dogs didn’t make up that eight-run deficit against Bloomington South, they did manage to cut it in half by scoring twice in the sixth and twice in the seventh in a 9-5 loss in the semifinals of the Shelbyville Sectional.
“We never give up,” said senior Christine Bombardiere who went 3 for 3. “That’s the thing about this team — no matter how far down we are, we never quit.”
The Panthers (6-13) advance to play crosstown rival Bloomington North in tonight’s championship game. The Cougars advanced with a 5-3 win against East Central in Thursday’s first semifinal.
In the nightcap, Bloomington South got on the board with a run in the third. Cindy Chambers led off with an infield single, went to second on a sacrifice and scored on a double by Mara Goodwin.
The Panthers added to their lead in the fourth, thanks to a pair of North errors. Addie Benham led off by reaching on an error and went to second on a one-out single by Olivia Hurley. Lizzie Halstead then doubled to right, scoring one run, but the second runner was cut down at the plate on a relay from Claudia Sims to pitcher Madisyn Prince to catcher Tommi Stowers. But then Chambers reached on an infield single, allowing Halstead — who had taken third on the throw to the plate — to score.
The Bull Dogs (9-16) got one of the runs back in the fourth. Bombardiere drew a one-out walk and scored on a triple to right by Lauren Imlay.
Bloomington South then broke the game open by scoring four times in the fifth, sparked by a two-run homer from Benham. After the next two batters reached base, Bombardiere replaced Prince in the circle. A walk and two more singles made it 7-1.
Two more runs on a triple by Nikki Ennis, two walks and an error in the sixth gave the Panthers the 9-1 lead.
But North wasn’t done. Makayla Cauduill led off the sixth with a walk, and Stowers and Bombardiere followed with singles. Bailey Lofton then came through with a two-run single to right to cut the lead to 9-3.
In the seventh, Katie Prall drew a one-out walk, and Caudill followed with a single. After Stowers reached on a fielder’s choice, and the runners moved up on a throwing error, Bombardiere delivered a two-run single to right to make it 9-5. Lofton followed with a single, but Bombardiere was thrown out at third to end the game.