FINDLAY – It was Carey that handed Bluffton its only loss of the year.
And this time around Carey wasted zero time coming after Bluffton again.
Carey scored five in the top of the first and that was enough to hold off Bluffton 8-3 in the Division IV girls softball district semifinals Wednesday at Anderson Field at the Marathon Diamonds.
Carey knocked out four hits in the first. That, along with one key Bluffton error, allowed them to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
“It was very huge,” Bluffton coach Tony Rumer said of Carey’s five-run first. “But give the girls credit. They kept battling trying to get back in it. Carey’s just a very good team and wouldn’t let us back in it.’’
Carey led 7-3 after three and added a run in the seventh to make it 8-3.
Carey (19-5) advances to the district championship game against the McComb/New Riegel winner.
Bluffton, the Northwest Conference champion, stands 20-2.
Carey left-hander Bridget Mullholand picked up the win.
“That’s the second time we faced her and that’s our two losses this year,” Rumer said. “She’s good and you don’t see a lot of a left-handed pitchers in high school. That can pose some challenges.’’
Mullholand went all seven innings, giving up three runs, two earned. She held Bluffton to four hits. She struck out four and walked two.
“It was relieving to know we had a big lead,” Mulholland said.
Mullholand mixed in plenty of change-ups with her 90 pitches, of which 54 were strikes.
“They were working great,” she said.
Carey defeated Bluffton 8-2 in the regular season, but Mullholand said she didn’t think that was much of a factor in the tournament game.
“That was early on in the year and everyone improved so we really didn’t know what to expect,” Mulholland said.
Bluffton’s Libby Schaadt also went all seven innings, giving up eight runs, but only three were earned, on 10 hits. She struck out five and walked five.
Schaadt threw 133 pitches, 78 for strikes.
In the first, Carey came out swinging at Schaadt’s fastball and riseball.
Hailey Niederkohr, Mullholand and Hanna Lonsway singled to load the bases with one out.
Kenzie Row’s RBI single to center gave Carey a 1-0 lead.
Lexia Clinger then hit a comebacker to the mound. Bluffton elected to go home on the play, but when the throw bounced to the backstop two runs scored to make it 3-0.
Mary Racheter’s RBI groundout to the mound made it 4-0. Clinger scored from third on a wild pitch and it was 5-0.
Bluffton came back with one in the first to get within 5-1.
In the second, Bluffton’s Riley Busch led off with a triple down the left-field line and came home on a wild pitch to get within 5-2.
Carey scored two in the third and it was 7-2 Blue Devils.
For Carey in the third, Racheter had a sacrifice fly to right to make it 6-2. Kenzie Snyder’s RBI single to left pushed the margin to 7-2.
Carey made two errors in the third and Bluffton was able to get within 7-3.
Overall, Carey had 10 hits and three errors. Bluffton had four hits and two infield throwing errors.
Carey’s Niedekohr and Lonsway both went 2 for 4. Racheter had two RBI.
Bluffton finished the year with its first girls softball NWC championship.
“There’s no reason to hang your heads,” Rumer said. “Yea, we’re disappointed, but what a wonderful season we just had.’’