ELIDA — Playing “small ball” on offensive and getting big plays on defense and from pitcher Leona Dalton was a winning combination for Ada in a 4-2 win over Wayne Trace in a Division IV softball district semifinal on Thursday at Dorothy Edwards Field.
Three consecutive bunts were at the heart of a three-run rally in the third inning that gave the Bulldogs all the runs they needed.
Dalton (3 strikeouts, 3 walks) held Wayne Trace scoreless through the first five innings and closed out the game with the tying runs on base in the top of the seventh inning.
Ada’s defense frustrated Wayne Trace’s hitters several times, never more so than in the top of the sixth inning when the Raiders loaded the bases with one out with Ada holding a 4-0 lead.
The next batter, Libby Wenzlick, lined a shot to leftfield that looked like it might clear the bases, but Ada left fielder Teara Coulson made a diving catch to chase the runners back to the bases they came from.
“That’s our game, that’s who we are. We’re a small ball type team. You don’t see all the slappers we have and the bunting we do. It’s hard to prepare for that,” Ada coach Troy Erickson said. “We’ll bunt anytime. We’ll bunt with two outs or whatever.
“Our freshman pitcher was lights out. That’s a lot of pressure on a freshman. We leaned on her,” he said.
The Ada coach called Coulson’s catch “the play of the year right now.”
“I thought there was no way she was getting to that ball. That is the play of the year right now. They were going to score at least two runs if that hits the ground right there,” Erickson said.
Ada (16-8) set a school record for softball wins and will face Columbus Grove at 5 p.m. Friday for the Elida district championship, which would be the Bulldogs’ first in softball. Ada won the regular-season match-up between the two teams 10-4.
Nicki Lehsten started Ada’s three-run third inning with a single. Alexis Ennis followed with a bunt single. Bunts by Olivia Alexander and Raina England, a Wayne Trace error and a double by Sydney Newland produced three runs.
In the fourth inning, Alexander beat out an infield single to score Lehsten for a 4-0 lead. Wayne Trace got two runs in the sixth inning after Coulson’s catch but left two runners on base that inning and in the final inning.