ELIDA – Ada’s Maddie Gossard knew the screwball was coming.
So she moved a few inches away from the plate and waited.
Gossard cranked it for a first-inning, two-run home run to help Ada post an 8-2 victory over Columbus Grove in the Division IV softball district championship game Saturday at Elida’s Dorothy Edwards Field.
It marks Ada’s first softball district title and first trip to the regionals.
Ada (17-8) advances to the regional semifinals to meet Tinora at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Findlay’s Marathon Diamonds.
“We want to put a banner up in our gym because there isn’t a softball banner up,” Gossard said. “So now there’s going to be a banner up there.’’
Columbus Grove ends its year 17-5.
Ada defeated Grove 10-4 in the regular-season matchup.
Columbus Grove left nine on base.
“We had our shots, but we couldn’t get it done,” Columbus Grove coach Travis Gallmeier said. “We couldn’t come up with that big hit.’’
Maddie Gossard went 2 for 4 with a double, a home run and four RBI to lead the Ada 10-hit offense.
Olivia Alexander was 2 for 4 with an RBI. Sidney Gossard went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Columbus Grove was led by pitcher Teyah Sautter, who went 2 for 4 with a double, a home run and two RBI. Lauren Birkemeier went 2 for 4.
Ada freshman pitcher Leona Dalton picked up the complete-game victory. She went seven innings, giving up two runs, both earned, on seven hits. She struck out eight and walked two.
Dalton threw 101 pitches, 65 for strikes.
“She really keeps on an even keel,” Ada coach Troy Erickson said.
Dalton said, “I try not to let the little things bother me.’’
Ada came out with three quick runs in the top of the first and led the rest of the way.
Alexander led off with a double to left.
Sidney Newland delivered an RBI single to center and it was 1-0 Ada.
Gossard, who is headed to Heidelberg, then hit a 1-1 pitch well over the left-field fence for a two-run home run and it was 3-0 Ada.
It marked her 10th home run of the year.
“We know Teyah from previously pitching for our school that her go-to pitch is her screwball (which breaks in to the right-handed hitting Gossard),” Gossard said. “I figured that pitch was coming because when we played them earlier in the year she threw me that the whole time and I couldn’t get around on it. So I prepared myself the whole week for that screwball and it really paid off.
“I moved back from the plate.’’
Gossard said she knew right away that she had hit the home-run ball well.
“I could tell (it was gone),” she said. “You can tell when it comes off the bat.’’
Sautter’s solo home run to left brought Columbus Grove within 3-1 in the home first.
Ada added a run in the second and one more in the third to pull out to a 5-1 lead.
Sautter’s RBI double in the home third got Grove within 5-2 after three.
Ada then pulled out to an 8-2 lead with three runs in the fourth.
Once again Maddie Gossard had the big hit. Her two-run double down the left-field line pushed the lead to 8-2 in the fourth.
“We like to bunt, but we mix it in with the power hits,” Erickson said.
Grove’s Sautter went six innings and gave up eight runs, five earned, on 10 hits. She struck out five and walked none.
Sautter threw 104 pitches, 67 for strikes.
Now Ada heads to Findlay for its first regional softball appearance.
“It’s a big day for Ada,” Erickson said.
Added Dalton, “It’s really a big accomplishment. We’ve come a long way to get this.’’