CELINA — Under clear skies and with a stout wind blowing in from left field, Celina’s Lady Bobcats handed Anna a 7-3 setback March 24 — though, as in the Lady Coyotes’ other three district losses, they put up a fight. Celina (3-1) swept to a 6-0 lead after four innings, then weathered Anna’s three-run, fifth-inning rally to move into a three-way tie for first place in District 11-4A with Melissa and Aubrey.

“Celina’s a really good team,” Lady Coyotes head coach Lindsey Lacy said. “Our kids knew that and, realistically, our whole district is good. Every game is going to be a battle. I thought we kind of shut down at the beginning, then we gained some momentum. That’s what I’m trying to tell the girls: ‘You can’t come in scared. We’ve got to come in ready to play.’ We did some good things, we did some bad things. That’s just part of the game.”

Asked to name one or two things that were the difference this day, Lacy said, “In the outfield, we’ve got to be able to cut balls off in the gap. They’re getting one extra base here, one extra base there, because we’re not cutting the ball off. And that could be the difference in two or three runs right there. And, really, it’s just getting that timely hit when we have the bases loaded. We’ve got to get the hit.”

Lacy was referring to the fifth inning, when Anna loaded the bases and eventually brought home three runs, but also left three stranded when the frame ended. Sophomore Hannah Howell threw 3.1 innings for the Lady Coyotes, allowing seven hits with four strikeouts before junior Grace Price finished up, permitting three hits and striking out two. Freshman Lauren Kerns, sophomore Fekyra Wells and freshman Nalyn Koenig each had a hit apiece for Anna.

Celina head coach Carla Bartlett, who lives in Anna, said a tough game was expected by her charges.

“Both teams worked really hard,” Bartlett said. “We knew Anna would be a tough competitor. Of course, I know some of those kiddos. I think they did a great job. I told our girls not to take them lightly. We just came out on top tonight.”

Bartlett had right-hander Randi Dobbins on the mound most of the way, including that fifth inning when Dobbins fought through the Anna threat. Then lefty Macayla Galloway came on to finish the final two frames.

“Having Randi and Macayla is great,” Bartlett said. “They’re two totally different pitchers, even down to what arm they throw with. We’re just really blessed to have both of them.”

The Lady Bobcats opened their half of the first with a double and triple and soon plated two runs. In the top of the second, Anna had something going when freshman Shelby Dombrowski reached on an error followed by a Wells walk. Dombrowski would steal third base but then, on a called third strike as Wells stole second, Dombrowski dashed for home but was thrown out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the third, Celina struck for three more runs. Dobbins got things going with a triple laced to the center field fence followed by a Galloway single that brought Dobbins home. A strikeout by Howell and Dombrowski’s nab of shallow pop-up to left slowed the Lady Bobcats’ surge, but Shayla Dellermo’s line drive to left would send in two more scores. On the same play, she was caught in a pickle between first and second to end the inning with Celina up, 5-0.

The Lady Bobcats scored once more in the fourth before Anna mounted its comeback. Whitney Harpole and Wells started the rally with back-to-back walks. Price then bunted safely to load the bases before Nayln Koenig singled to score Harpole from third. Then, on a passed ball, Wells tried for home but was tagged out. Senior Savannah Kendall finished her at-bat with a walk to load the bases again and junior Madison Davis’ subsequent walk scored Anna’s second run. Kerns then slapped a single to shallow center to draw the Lady Coyotes to within 6-3 — but that would be all for Anna (0-4).

“Really, we’re just trying to get that first win,” Lacy said of the Lady Coyotes’ approach from here on. “I think once we get that first win, we’ll gain some momentum. We’ve just been so close. All four games have been so close. This team, we struggled last year and I’m just trying to get them over that hump. They have the talent and they have the potential and they work super-hard in practice. It’s just waiting for that one game to fall our way.”

Errors, stranded runners hurt Anna

Aubrey’s Lady Chaparrals topped Anna, 7-2, on March 21, aided by six Lady Coyote errors. Anna (0-3) also stranded 10 runners on base. Aubrey (2-1) led 2-0 after three innings and 4-1 after four. In the fifth inning, the Lady Coyotes responded by loading the bases only to bring in one run.

Sophomore Hannah Howell worked 5.1 innings on the mound for Anna, allowing 10 hits and striking out seven. Junior Grace Price came on in the sixth to close it out, collecting two strikeouts. Howell, junior Natalie Koenig, Nalyn Koenig and junior Madison Davis each had hits for the Lady Coyotes, including a triple by Davis. Fekyra Wells drew three walks at the plate. Howell and Natalie Koenig collected an RBI each.