Columbus East hung tough with New Albany through six innings of Hoosier Hills Conference softball action Monday afternoon before the visiting Bulldogs erupted offensively in the top of the seventh and pulled away for an 11-4 victory.
The Olympians (3-14, 1-3) trailed just 5-4 after six innings with hopes of their own late rally but had their momentum dashed after New Albany plated six runs on seven hits in the top of the final frame.
The guests, who needed to rally in the previous inning to regain the lead, finished with 15 hits.
East starting pitcher Hayley Smalley ran out of juice in final inning as the Bulldogs went to the plate 11 times and pounded out four extra-base hits, including a two-run homer by Kenzie Gill, to push the lead to 10-5.
New Albany also got a two-run homer in the third from Kennedy Wynn, who finished with a trio of hits and three runs scored.
“Hayley has pitched a lot of innings this season,” said East coach Sonny Stahl. “New Albany is a good hitting team and finally got to her.”
The O’s trailed 3-0 before tying the contest in the bottom of the third inning.
Blake Thompson registered the team’s first hit of the game with a blooper into center field and moved to second an out later after Kiersten Henderson drew a walk. Kaitlin Wagner’s single then loaded the bases before Erin Tharp’s sacrifice fly brought home Thompson.
Elyse Babb also singled, once again loading the bases and bringing up Smalley, who drilled a line-drive hit off the Bulldogs’ Hannah Morton to plate both Henderson and Wagner.
East then went in front in the next inning as Thompson got things rolling again with a base hit. Henderson followed with a two-out single, and Thompson scored moments later after Wagner’s pop-up was dropped by Morton.
Unfortunately for the O’s, they would score no more, finishing with eight hits on the evening — all singles.
Tharp and Babb both slapped hits in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, but Morton shut the door by forcing Smalley to ground out to shortstop.
The Olympians displayed some solid fielding, playing errorless defense as the East
infield recorded 12 putouts, as well as Babb throwing out a New Albany runner attempting to steal. Thompson, who had two hits and a pair of runs, also turned in a strong effort with her glove by registering five putouts in right field.
“We have been working hard on defense all week,” said Stahl. “If we continue to play that kind of defense and continue to make contact with the ball on offense, we’ll get the wins.
“It’s a long season, and we’re coming along.”