Once again Cleveland showed signs of life, but once again too little, too late.
“We kind of started acting like we could cruise. We had opportunities to score. We got people on, but we have some people struggling (at the plate) and it seemed like that was always the person that was up,” said Bearettes coach Christy McElhaney.
Chanler Grady got it started for the Bearettes (3-2, 5-6 District 5-AAA) with a leadoff single in the bottom of the first inning. Two Lady Raider errors, a Tori Roberts squeeze bunt and a Kierstyn Blair single later, Bradley held a 4-0 lead.
Grady and Meghan Ward singled and Grady made it a 5-0 game on the third Cleveland error in the bottom of the second.
“You play seven innings, but you have to start the first inning. We started off a little shaky the first inning. We had a lot of mistakes on routine plays that should have been made,” said Lady Raiders coach Connie Stobert.
“Ninety percent of it is mental and they are going through a mental slump right now. You don’t normally see that at the beginning of the season. It is something we are trying to break. We are working on relaxing and hitting the big yellow thing.”
Bearettes’ pitcher Allison Conley faced only 15 batters in five innings and had a perfect game working before the Lady Raiders came to life in the sixth.
The senior Bearette hurler gave up five hits — all in the final two innings — struck out five and gave up no walks. Bradley Central banged out eight hits against Cleveland pitcher Haley Hodgson.
With one out in the top of the sixth, Teliyah Cobb and pinch hitter Jasmine Martin singled and scored on a Hannah Holland RBI single to center field to cut the Bearettes’ lead to 5-2.
Cleveland third baseman Brittany Arnold lashed a long single off the left-center field fence to open the seventh and Hodgson followed with a one-out single before the Bearettes slammed the door on the 5-2 win.
“At this point it’s just making a quality contact and putting it in play. I told them I don’t care if we win or lose, I want us to come out, have fun and work on hitting the ball hard,” said Stobert.
“They have been showing signs of life. Hannah (Holland) had a good at bat. She stayed patient, got the ball through the hole and actually got us on the board and we didn’t get skunked. Brittany had a good rip, unfortunately we couldn’t move her around when we needed to.”
Roberts doubled to left-center field for Bradley in the bottom of the inning, but was left stranded.
“They did what they needed to do to win. But, they played well. There were some new people at new positions and it takes some adjustment,” McElhaney surmised. “But, Allison threw well. It seems like she gets stronger every time she comes out.”
Cleveland 000 002 0 — 2 5 4
Bradley Central 410 000 x — 5 8 2
WP: Allison Conley; LP: Haley Hodgson. 2B: Tori Roberts (BC). Other highlights: Chanler Grady 2-4, Roberts 2-2, Baylee Carroll 2-3 (BC). Records: Cleveland 0-12, 0-4 5-AAA; Bradley Central 3-2, 5-6.