By JIM METCALFE
DELPHOS — Defense in the game of baseball or fast-pitch softball is all about catching, throwing and fielding.
Jefferson’s softball squad struggled with that part of the game Friday night, committing nine miscues in the field in falling 12-1 to Paulding in six innings in Northwest Conference action at Lady Wildcat Field.
It was that defensive struggle that was on the mind of first-year Jefferson head man Josiah Stober.
“We beat ourselves tonight with our defense. We made a lot of mental mistakes in those physical errors as well,” Stober began. “We talk to our girls a lot about thinking ahead and knowing where to go with the ball, as well as focusing on finishing the plays. We have to get better there, no doubt.”
Paulding head man Matt Carr was just happy his team put the ball in play.
“No doubt, we got help from their defense but we made them make those plays. We are hitting the ball hard,” Carr acknowledged. “That has been a big stress this week for us; make contact.”
Those errors meant that only one of the Lady Panthers’ 12 runs that Jefferson starter Taylor Branham (0-9) gave up in her six innings was earned. The Panthers (5-7, 3-3 NWC) got their only earned run in the top of the first on a walk, a single (Kelsey Beck) and a wild pitch, plating Alexis Rue.
Jefferson (0-11, 0-6 NWC) tied it up in the home half against freshman Kristen Schilt (2-1) on a leadoff triple to left by Fallon Van Dyke and a wild pitch.
However, junior first sacker Jasmine McDougall had to leave the lineup due to injury.
The Panthers opened up a 6-run lead in the top of the second, piecing together three miscues along the way. They also had a walk, a hit batter and three hits, including back-to-back 2-run singles by Breana Schmidt and Jerika Bland, to gain that 7-1 spread when the smoke had cleared.
The Wildcats tried to answer in the second on 1-out back-to-back singles (Samantha Branham and Alexis Cook) and a sacrifice bunt (Kayla Kill) but could not score.
Paulding left two stranded in the third and the bases loaded in the fourth, though they did score a run in the latter on a leadoff triple by Beck (3-for-4, 3 runs) and an error.
Delphos again put two on in the home half of the fourth on 2-out infield hits (S. Branham and Cook) but again, could not score.
The visitors made it 10-1 in the fifth as they used two more misplays by the Wildcats and one single, a run-scoring liner to left by Beck.
Paulding tacked on their final two tallies in the top of the sixth, once more gaining help via a pair of errors, plus adding a free pass and a hit. Trying to get two runs to extend the game, Jessica Pimpas led off the Jefferson sixth with a bloop to right but was eliminated on a Sarah Thitoff grounder. She advanced on a Kamie Pulford groundout and stole third but got no farther.
Stober was pleased with the offensive attack.
“Our bats have come alive the last three or four games. We’ve worked hard on our form and we’re swinging them well,” Stober added. “We’re putting the ball in play and not striking out nearly as much as we were earlier this season. We even had some hard-hit balls go right to them, so we had some bad luck. Taylor also pitched better than the result.”
Carr was extremely happy with his pitching.
“That was only Kristen’s third varsity start and she did fine,” he added. “When she throws strikes, she is very effective. That allows her to mix her changeup in with her other pitches and our defense is on its toes, like tonight.”
Both teams return to NWC action 5 p.m. Monday: Jefferson at Crestview and Paulding at Allen East.
Morgan Riley 3b 3-1-0-0, Alexis Rue cf 2-2-0-0, Suzanne Reinhart ph/cf 1-0-0-0, Kelsey Beck c 4-3-3-1, Breana Schmidt 1b 4-1-1-2, Jerika Bland ss 4-0-1-2, Emily Farr dp 3-0-1-0, Kandee Manson rf 0-0-0-0, Alyssa Shelmadine rf 0-0-0-0, Kristen Schilt p 3-2-2-0, Brooke Combs 2b 3-1-0-0, Melissa Durham 2b 1-0-0-0, Abby Pease lf 3-1-0-0, Kastin Kelly ph 1-1-0-0. Totals 32-12-8-5.
Fallon Van Dyke cf 3-1-1-0, Hannah Sensibaugh 3b 3-0-0-0, Taylor Branham p 3-0-1-0, Jasmine McDougall 1b 1-0-0-0, Jessica Pimpas 1b 2-0-1-0, Sarah Thitoff dp 3-0-0-0, Kimber Kill lf 0-0-0-0, Brandy White lf 0-0-0-0, Kamie Pulford ss 3-0-0-0, Samantha Branham c 2-0-2-0, Alexis Cook 2b 2-0-2-0, Kayla Kill rf 1-0-0-0, Bailey Gorman rf 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-1-7-0.
Score by Innings:
Paulding 1 6 0 1 2 2 - 12
Jefferson 1 0 0 0 0 0 - 1
E: Pimpas 3, S. Branham 2, T. Branham, Pulford, Kay. Kill, White; LOB: Paulding 9, Jefferson 6; 2B: Beck; 3B: Beck, Van Dyke; SB: Schilt, Pease, Kelly, Thitoff; CS: Riley (by T. Branham); Sac: Ka. Kill.
IP H R ER BB SO
Schilt (W, 2-1) 6.0 7 1 1 0 5
T. Branham (L, 0-9) 6.0 8 12 1 5 3
WP: T. Branham 4; PB: S. Branham 4; HBP: Rue (by T. Branham).