Bradley Central coach Christie McElhaney was pleased with her team’s 13-hit, nine-run effort Wednesday night.
What didn’t make her happy was them giving up 18 hits and 17 runs to District 5-AAA co-leader East Hamilton.
“We hit the ball well, but we couldn’t keep them from hitting,” the veteran Bearette coach commented. “We are getting better, but we still struggle at times.”
The 18-9 defeat in their final home game of the season, slips the squad that has a half dozen regular starters to 8-13 on the season and 3-9 in district play.
Bradley will travel to Benton Friday for a makeup game against Polk County and Chattanooga Monday to face Grace Baptist before the 5-AAA tournament begins May 2 at Cleveland High.
East Hamilton (23-8, 9-2) will battle Soddy-Daisy (27-6, 9-2) Monday to determine the top seed for post-season play.
“It’s all on the line Monday,” declared East Hamilton head coach Norma Nelson. “We knew Bradley has been playing well, so we knew we needed to come in here hitting well, but we didn’t play well defensively. We weren’t focused like we need to be.”
Wednesday’s game at Bob McKenzie Field got off to a strong start for the Bearettes, who after giving up a game opening single, doubled the runner off after junior first baseman Chanler Grady made a diving catch of a bunt attempt and then scrambled to throw the runner out before she could retreat.
After the next batter flew out, Bradley put together four hits and took advantage of a Lady Hurricane error to send a trio of base runners across the plate.
Freshman Sydney Morgan led off with an infield hit, before junior Von Harrison beat out a bunt for a single.
When sophomore Emmaly Morgan put down a sacrifice bunt attempt, the ball was thrown down the right field line, allowing the game’s first two runs to score. Emmaly Morgan scored herself on a wild pitch a few moments later.
East Hamilton, which has played in the last two TSSAA state tournaments, bounced back with a pair of runs in its second at bat when Tori Barnes sent the first of her five hits on the day over the left field fence for a two-run homer.
The visitors exploded for five more runs in the third frame, with Brie Levy provided a two-run double, the first of her three two-baggers in the contest. Barnes also drove in two more of her seven RBIs with a two-out single.
Bradley added a solo run in the bottom of the third when freshman Britlee Ogle delivered a two-out single to plate junior Shasha Barnett, who was the courtesy runner for freshman catcher Kallie Hawkins, who had walked.
The Bearettes put up a 5-spot of their own in the bottom of the fourth to vault into the lead.
Grady led things off with an infield single, while Sydney Morgan reached when her sac bunt was bungled.
Harrison then stepped into the box and sent a shot over the right field fence to even the score.
Emmaly Morgan followed with a double and after Hawkins walked again, junior Abbey Abernathy dropped down a bunt but the throw went down the right field line to allow two more runs to finish circling the bases.
The Lady Hurricanes answered quickly as the first three batters — Levy, Alyssa Strickler and Barnes — rattled the fence for three straight doubles to open the top of the fifth.
When all was said and done, four runs had scored and the visitors had the advantage for good.
East Hamilton added three more runs in both the sixth and seventh innings to give the game its final tally, while Shelby Duggard came on in relief and gave up just one unearned run in four innings of work.
Freshman Emily Colbaugh went 4-for-4, plus stole a base for Bradley, while Harrison had a trio of thefts while adding a pair of free passes to her home run and double.
East Hamilton 025 043 3 — 17 18 4
Bradley Central 301 500 0 — 9 13 2
WP: Shelby Duggard 4 IP, 1 K, 3 BB, 4 hits, 0 ER; LP: Chanler Grady 4 IP, 0 Ks, 3 BB, 11 hits, 7 ER. HR: Tori Barnes (EH); Von Harrison (BC). 2B: Brie Levy 3, Miracle Gorman 2, Alyssa Strickler, Barnes (EH); Emmaly Morgan (BC). RBI: Barnes 7, Strickler 3, Levy 2, Amber Phillips, Tori Harris, Samantha Murray, Gorman, (EH); Harrison 3, Britlee Ogle, (BC). Highlights: Barnes 5-5, HR, 2B, 7 RBIs 3 runs; Levy 3-5, 3 2Bs, 2 RBIs, 4 runs (EH); Emily Colbaugh 4-4, SB; Harrison 2-3, 2 BB, HR, 3 RBIs, 3 SB, 2 runs; Sydney Morgan 2-3, 2 runs (BC). Records: Cleveland 0-2, 0-2 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 8-13, 3-9 District 5-AAA.