Bradley Central’s softball squad kept battling back Monday afternoon, but the Bearettes proved to be their own worst enemy in a one-run loss to visiting Grace Baptist Academy at Bob McKenzie Field.
Four fielding errors led to a trio of unearned runs as the Lady Eagles scored in their final at bat to claim a 4-3 victory over the Bearettes.
Bradley (5-9) will have to regroup quickly as a trip to Rhea County is on tap this afternoon for a key District 5-AAA contest. The Bears also will host league leading Walker Valley on Thursday.
Grace Academy (9-11) struck first Monday with a run in the top of the second inning, when a two-out error allowed a base runner to score from second base.
The Lady Eagles added another run in the fourth frame when Tori Helton led off with a single and later came in to score, thanks to another two-out Bearette miscue.
After going down in order in the first four innings, Bradley fought back to even the score with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Baylee Carroll opened the at bat with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cleveland State signee Allison Conley.
Mikala Ward, a soccer signee at Tennessee Wesleyan, followed with a double to bring Carroll around, then scored herself a few moments later after a pair of Lady Eagle wild pitches.
Helton put Grace Academy back in the lead when she deposited the first pitch of the sixth frame over the left field fence, but despite a pair of singles that followed, plus another Bearette error, the solo blast accounted for the only run of the half inning.
Once again the Bearettes came clawing back in the bottom of the inning as sophomore Von Harrison ripped a two-out triple and then scored on a wild pitch to even the score.
The visitors took their third and final lead of the day in the top of the seventh with a one-out single, a stolen base and the final Bradley error coming on a two-out hit.
The hosts once again tried to rally in the bottom half of the seventh as Conley opened with a single, but her courtesy runner got nabbed trying to go from first to third on an infield hit by Ard. Despite the base-running miscalculation, Ard was able to advance to third on back-to-back passed balls and was heading home to tie the game once again when Smith snagged a sinking line drive that appeared headed to left field for the game-ending out.
While Helton came on to pitch the final 2 1/3 innings for the Lady Eagle victory, Smith had hurled the first 3 2/3. Helton struck out two and scattered three hits, while Smith had five Ks, walked just one and also allowed a trio of safeties.
Conley got saddled with the loss despite giving up just one earned run while going the distance in the circle for the Bearettes.
Ard led the Bradley offense, going 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Harrison’s triple was the only other extra-base hit for the hosts.
Grace Academy 010 101 1 — 4 10 0
Bradley Central 000 021 0 — 3 6 4
WP: Tori Helton 2.1 IP, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 3 hits, 1 ER. LP: Alison Conley 7 IP, 0 Ks, 0 BB, 10 hits, 1 ER. HR: Helton (GA). 3B: Von Harrison (BC). RBI: Helton (GA); Ard (BC). Highlights: Helton 3-4, HR, RBI, run; Alex Smith 3-4, 5.2 IP, 5 Ks, 0 BB, 3 hits, 2 ER (GA); Ard 2-3, 2B, RBI, run; Harrison 1-3, 3B, run (BC) Records: Grace Academy 9-11; Bradley Central 5-9.