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Ada softball loses pitching duel at Allen East

By Cort Reynolds

The young Ada High School varsity softball team scrapped hard but lost a tight 3-1 pitcher's duel at local rival Allen East in the Northwest Conference season finale on a warm Monday evening, May 16, at Harrod.

The Lady Bulldogs fell to 5-14 overall and finished 2-6 in the NWC with the closedefeat. 

The Mustang girls improved to 10-11 overall and 3-5 in the NWC with the win to finish a game ahead of Ada in the league standings.

"Errors hurt us again, but we were in the ball game at the end," said Bulldog first-year head coach Jeff Bassitt.   

Neither team reached base in the first inning. 

Ada freshman pitcher Jenna Bassitt retired the Mustangs in order in the home second.

Hard-throwing Mustang hurler Nikki Thaxton struck out the side 

in the top of the third, with two set down looking.

In the AE third, Hannah Williams singled to center field with two out. The next batter followed with another single up the middle.

But Bassitt struck out the next hitter to strand two runners and keep the game scoreless.

Ada went out in order in the top of the fourth. AE then started its quest to take the lead when Thaxton hit a one-out triple to right-center field. 

One out later, Emma Tobe nubbed a squibber along the first base line. After a short bobble Bassitt fielded it and threw to first, but the ball was dropped on a close play and Thaxton came home with the game's first run.

Bassitt then pitched around another error that put runners on the corners. She backhanded a grounder to her right and rifled a bullet to gun the runner down at first and keep the margin at 1-0.

In the top of the fifth, Thaxton struck out the first two hitters. Bassitt then lined a shot into the gap in right-center field and took off running. 

When the relay from the outfield was dropped, Bassitt sped all the way around the bases and scored standing up for an inside-the-park homer that tied the game, 1-1.

Yet AE responded to break the tie in the bottom of the fifth. Williams beat out an infield hit to shortstop to ignite the rally.

After a strikeout, Audrey Rex laid down a sacrifice bunt and the runners advanced on an error. After another strikeout Thaxton looped a pop-up behind second base that was dropped. Two runs scampered home to break the tie.

After a single to left field by Alex Rodriguez and another error fielding the ball, Bassitt got out of the jam by inducing a groundout to Karley Wagner at second base. 

But the damage had been done with AE now back on top, 3-1.

Katie Sizemore led off the Ada sixth by working her second straight walk. But Thaxton retired the next three hitters on a strikeout and two grounders to preserve the two-run lead.

AE threatened in the bottom of the sixth. A Maggie Wanamaker single to left field and an infield hit by Ella Miller were followed by two force-out ground balls. 

With runners on second and third, Bassitt got the last out when Rex bounced out to the sure-handed Wagner.

Ada mounted a threat in its last at bat. Wagner led off and hit a chopper to third sacker Williams, who threw her out.

Catcher Natilyn McClain drove a deep fly to center field that was caught for the second out. 

"Natilyn did a good job behind the plate," noted Bassitt. 

Senior Morgan Dirmeyer coaxed a walk off reliever Rodriguez to keep Ada alive. 

Thaxton re-entered as pitcher but Bassitt pulled a hard grounder into the hole, which the shortstop Tobe gloved with a diving stop but couldn't make a throw on. 

Freshman shortstop Aidra Preston then punched a single to right field to load the bases.

Sizemore came up and led 3-0 before Thaxton battled back to a 3-2 count before the sophomore fouled off two pitches. The next pitch was a fastball that appeared to be a bit inside, but was called a third strike to end the bases-loaded threat and the game.

"We were competitive but it wasn't the result we wanted," summed up Bassitt. "But this team has a lot of potential and a bright future. We just have to put in the work in the off-season."

Bulldog freshman hurler Bassitt struck out six and allowed no earned runs. 

She aided her own cause with a homer and a single, and scored the lone Ada run. Preston singled for the other Bulldog hit.

Thaxton struck out 10 and walked two to earn the win.

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