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Maconaquah softball drops pair to Oak Hill, Rossville

TESTED: Maconaquah senior Shelby Spence rifles a grounder over to first base for an out against Rossville Friday night. The Braves’ defense held up well in two games against Oak Hill andthe HornetsThursday and Friday though a mistake in each game cost runs in the pair of defeats.

Trent Scott/tscott@perutribune.com

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

Maconaquah’s softball team played its second and third games of the season in as many days Thursday and Friday, dropping a pair of close contests each night.

Thursday, the Braves were bested by a run against Oak Hill, falling 4-3, while Friday night a key injury early against Rossville took some of the steam out of the attack as the hosts droped a 7-4 game to the Hornets.

Maconaquah head coach Jenna Wittenberg said the defense was put under pressure both games but responded well.

“We had a lot of balls in play to defend the last two nights,” Wittenberg said. “The defense struggled at times but they did well enough to keep us in both games.

“A play here, a bounce there and we might win both games. Those are the part of growing pains, though.”

After two low-key innings of play Thursday, Oak Hill had the first serious threat of the game after Ella Ridgeway drew a walk to start the third inning, took second on a passed ball and was bunted to third by Bailey Toy.

A strikeout and groundout ended the threat but the Golden Eagles would get a run the next inning.

Kaela Robey doubled with one out, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Ashlyn Transier’s sac fly to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Maconaquah responded in the bottom half of the inning with two long drives, the first a double by Lexi DiBattiste and the latter a two-run home run by Holly Morris that gave the hosts a 2-1 lead.

Oak Hill needed a way back into the game and the Braves gave them the assist they needed in the sixth inning.

Abby Shaw hit a grounder to third base but was safe at first when the catch at the bag was not held.

Coleena Sellick drew a walk and Jenessa Hasty reached safely on a sac bunt to load the bases for Robey.

The junior hit into a fielder’s choice but the throw home was not in time, tying the game at 2-2.

Transier was not as lucky as her own fielder’s choice was met with a force out at home but a passed ball allowed Hasty to score later.

Korinne Perkins drew a walk and Kristin Dubois hit a single to plate Robey, making the score 4-2.

Carra Wolf was able to avoid further damage for Maconaquah with a strikeout and fielder’s choice to end the threat and proceeded to help reduce the deficit in the bottom half of the inning.

Morris hit a double to center field and Wolf followed with a ground rule double, cutting the gap to 4-3.

The Braves sent Paige Swihart out to pinch run for Wolf but the substitute failed to track back when Mikaylie Whybrew’s fly ball was caught in center field, resulting in a double play.

The Golden Eagles failed to add to the lead and the hosts had one more crack at tying the game when Savanna Miracle hit a double with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Toy was able to work out of the jam, getting Hayleigh Cole to strike out to end the game.

Wittenberg said the game could have gotten completely out of hand in the sixth inning but the girls rallied and pushed Oak Hill until the end.

“The error in the sixth certainly changed the way the game was played,” Wittenberg noted. “In the past, an error like that would have compounded into even more runs and a huge inning.

“We told the girls to keep their heads up and the girls fought back, not allowing the inning to be bigger than it was. We hadn’t had a situation like that and we’ll grow from that.”

In Friday’s game, Rossville plated a run in the top of the first through Maggie Deboy but the actions in the bottom of the inning took center stage.

A run of singles helped Maconaquah plate a pair of runners but in the process, Morris was injured and had to receive outside medical attention, prompting a shift in which Whybrew moved to catch, Andrea Selleck moved to first base and Savannah Maston entered the game in the outfield.

Losing Morris was a major blow according to Wittenberg.

“After we lost Holly, the girls weren’t sure what to do,” Wittenberg pointed out. “She’s a big leader for us emotionally and when we had her behind the plate, she’s been big for us.

“It hurt pretty bad. We’ve been preaching next man up but when her spot in the order came up, there was just something missing.”

Rossville wasn’t able to get a run on the board in the second inning but took the lead in the third.

Dawson Freeman reached safely to start the inning and a string of hits from Cassidy Underwood, Deboy, Cory Taylor and Emma Baumgardt plated three runs, giving the Hornets a 4-2 lead.

The Braves tied the game in the fourth with hits from DiBattiste and Wolf, as well as some mishandles in the field from the visitors.

Parity would only last half an inning as Rossville reclaimed the lead for good with a Baumgardt double and Lawson single bringing in runs.

The Hornets added one more run in the sixth off of the bat of Baumgardt and the junior kept the Braves’ bats in check over the final two innings.

Unlike the first two night, Wittenberg said the team didn’t have the same level of sharpness at the plate against Rossville.

“We just didn’t execute tonight,” Wittenberg said. “We couldn’t get bunts down, outside of Shelby (Spence), and didn’t get the hit we needed when we had runners in scoring position.

“We’re getting girls in positions to be successful but now we need to take the next step and get the job done.”

Rain wiped out a doubleheader with Blackford Saturday, giving Maconaquah two days of rest before three-straight games next week, starting with a trip to Culver Military Academy Monday.

Wittenberg said the girls still wanted to get on the field often as the team prepares to open TRC play Wednesday against Tippecanoe Valley.

“The rest this weekend will be nice as we look towards our first conference game Wednesday,” Wittenberg said. “We’re still working out our patterns of rest for arms and make sure the girls are good to go.

“The girls wanted a lot of games and that’s what they’re going to get.”

At Maconaquah

Thursday

At Maconaquah

Oak Hill 000 103 0 — 4 7 0

Maconaquah 000 201 0 — 3 9 1

WP — Toy (2-1) CG, 3 R (3 ER), 9 H, 9 K

LP — Wolf (1-1) CG, 4 R (4 ER) 7 H, 5 BB, HBP, 4 K

HR — Morris (1)

2B — Robey; DiBattiste, Morris, Wolf, Miracle

RBI — Transier, Robey, Dubois; Morris (2), Wolf

Friday

At Maconaquah

Rossville 103 021 0 — 7 10 9

Maconaquah 200 200 0 — 4 12 3

WP — Baumgardt (2-2) CG, 7 H 4 R (2 ER), 4 BB, 7 K

LP — Wolf (1-2) 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 5 BB, 5 K

2B — Baumgardt (2); DiBattiste (2)

RBI — Baumgardt (4), Deboy, Taylor, Lawson; Wolf, DiBattiste

Next Game: Maconaquah (1-2) travels to Culver Military Academy (4-0) Monday at 5:30 p.m.