Ada senior Alexis Gonzaga tries to beat out a grounder to first base in Thursday's 15-2 loss to Crestview. (Ada Herald/Cort Reynolds)
Ada senior Alexis Gonzaga tries to beat out a grounder to first base in Thursday's 15-2 loss to Crestview. (Ada Herald/Cort Reynolds)
ADA - Visiting Crestview scored five backbreaking two-out runs in the third inning to bust open a close game, and went on to defeat Ada 15-2 in a Northwest Conference softball game on a cool, windy Thursday evening.
The Lady Knight win upped their record to 11-6 overall and 6-0 in the NWC, keeping the perennial powers in first place. Ada fell to 10-5 overall and 0-5 in the league with the five-inning, run-rule shortened loss.
Shaky defense cost the Bulldogs, as three misplays led to the five-run third and more errors contributed to the Knight six-run fourth frame.
"Anytime you give a good team extra outs, they will make you pay for every one," noted Lady Bulldog head coach Ken Jochims. "We have kicked the ball around in league play.
"In non-league play we have caught the ball," he continued. "In league play, we have been our own worst enemy. Tonight, we got the ball up in the zone too much pitching-wise."
Crestview struck early with a two-run double off the base of the left field wall in the top of the first by slugging pitcher Kirstin Hicks. Terra Crowle crushed another double off the center field fence to score Hicks and make it 3-0.
Ada threatened to strike back in the home half of the first. Leadoff batter Ashley Sumner was hit by a pitch and Alexis Gonzaga singled to shallow right field.
Starting pitcher Alexis Amburgey moved up the runners with a fine sacrifice bunt to third. Slugging catcher Ashley Windle pulled a long shot over the left field wall, but it sailed foul. She then got jammed by Hicks and popped out to second base. Kaylee Spangler grounded out to third sacker Brooke Bowen to end the threat.
"We did some good things offensively in the first but didn't capitalize with Tori out of there," Jochims noted. The Bulldogs played without junior Tori Wyss, who twisted her ankle in pre-game warmups.
Amburgey retired the first two hitters in the second before a sharp single down the left field line and a fielding error extended the inning. A line single to center by Hicks stretched the lead to 4-0.
Ada got its own two-out rally going in the second when Katelyn Guagenti drew a walk. Quinn High then stroked a triple to right-center that rolled to the wall, scoring Guagenti. But Sumner was retired a drive to center field to keep the score at 4-1.
A line drive off the glove of High and a solid hit to center, followed by a sacrifice, advanced two Lady Knights into scoring position with two outs.
A line-drive single past first base plated both runners for a 6-1 bulge. A hit and an error on a grounder to second made it 7-1.
Hicks then roped a two-run double to left-center field to build a 9-1 cushion.
In the Ada third, Amburgey ripped a one-out shot off the third sacker's glove for a double to left. Windle smashed a liner that the Knight shortstop short-hopped nicely and threw to first for the second out.
However, when Amburgey took off for third the first baseman's throw skipped past the third sacker, allowing the Ada hurler to race home and cut the deficit to 9-2. 
Spangler reached on another error by the first baseman, who dropped the throw after a grounder hugged the third base line. However, a called third strike got Hicks out of further trouble.
In the top of the fourth, Sumner relieved Amburgey. She was greeted with a high drive that carried over the center field fence off the bat of Brady Guest.
Crowle's blooped a single to right and a pop-up to short left field also fell in as things continued to go against the hosts. Another error loaded the bases.
The Knights grounded a single to right field to score two more, and an outfield error on the play allowed all four runs to speed home for a 14-2 advantage.
"The defense is contagious to a certain extent," said Jochims. "It is physical and mental."
A bunt single and another RBI single closed the clinching six-run frame for the visitors.
The scrappy Guagenti coaxed her second base on balls in the Bulldog fourth, but was stranded.
In the fifth, Sumner recovered nicely to record the first scoreless frame of the evening. She retired the final three batters after the first two reached on a single and walk.
Ada went down in order in the home fifth to end the contest.
Crestview has won 17 of the previous 24 NWC softball titles. The Knights out-hit Ada 14-3 and took advantage of seven Bulldog miscues.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R  H  E
Cvw 3 1 5 6 0 x x 15 14 2  
Ada 0 1 1 0 0 x x 2  3  7 
WP-Hicks  LP-Amburgey (5-4) 
2B-Amburgey (A), Hicks 2 (C), Crowle (C)
3B-High (A)
HR-Guest (C)

Ada is slated to make up this past Monday's postponed league game at Paulding (2-8, 1-3 NWC) Tuesday, May 6.
The draw for sectional tournament play will be held this weekend. "New Riegel is the big-boy team, and Arlington is good," said Jochims. "But we can play with anybody if we catch the ball. We will see that happens with the draw. I am hoping that at 10-5, we can get a home game."
Ada plays at Spencerville (9-5, 1-3 NWC) Monday.