PENDLETON — High-stakes games are usually decided by who blinks first, and Wednesday’s Class 4A Sectional 9 softball final was no exception.
It was Greenfield-Central that flinched against Pendleton Heights, and the Cougars paid for that with elimination from the tournament.
A two-out throwing error in the third inning gave the seventh-ranked Arabians the impetus they needed, and they would seize upon five later G-C miscues and defeat the Cougars 7-1 at Legends Field.
The 17th-ranked Cougars, held hitless in their first four at-bats and with just three singles on the day, finished 21-11.
“It’s all errors and it’s unfortunate, seven unearned runs,” G-C coach Jason Stewart said. “They’ve got to be better. We had the wind (to our back) and we just didn’t do it.”
Not only did PH hurler Brooke Wendling baffle the Cougars (two hits allowed), G-C hurt itself in the field, and its errors only added to the misery PH inflicted at the plate.
PH (27-4) went ahead when Cougar third baseman Alyssa Walls overthrew first base trying to throw Sarah Dixon out. Delilah Wright trotted home from third, and would score one batter later, when Alyssa Hathcoat singled.
The Arabians made it 4-1 in the sixth on just two hits and three G-C errors. PH put it out of reach in the seventh with three more runs, chasing pitcher Sami Frazier in the process.
The Cougars’ tally occurred in the fourth, when Kristen Wise drove Ashley Whitaker home on a sacrifice fly to deep left.
G-C loaded the bases in both the fifth and seventh, but it came away empty both times.
“We were undisciplined at the plate and it’s just frustrating,” Stewart said. “That little pitcher throws the ball around, but there’s no reason not to put any runs on the board.”
PH, which captured its second straight sectional and 15th overall, hosts the Roncalli sectional winner in the regional Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Cougars and their seven-player senior class will be content with 91 wins, the most in school history over four consecutive years, as well as two sectional titles and a regional crown in 2010.
“We lost a ton of talent over the last two years,” Stewart said. “We got about as far out of this group as we could. We really weren’t outclassed (Wednesday), we just didn’t make plays.”
G-C’s seniors were Frazier, Wise, Kimmy Ellenberger, Ashley Brunk, Lauten Deeter, Brittany Hardwick and Jena Zook.