By Gary R. Rasberry
For Celina to reach its goal of winning a second straight Western Buckeye League softball title, the team has to start the league slate off right.
The Bulldogs did just that on Thursday, pounding out 15 hits and limiting Van Wert to just three hits to get a 10-0 win at Bill Feth Diamond. The win improves the Bulldogs to 8-1 on the season and 1-0 in the WBL. Van Wert drops just its second decision in 10 games this season and starts the league at 0-1.
Celina mixed things up against the Cougars. When not slamming the ball deep into the outfield -- the Bulldogs collected five doubles on the day -- for hits, the Bulldogs were bunting, recording four sacrifice bunts and several infield hits based on speed.
"A good way to start the WBL, I can't be more pleased," said Celina coach John Hendricks. "We got our hits against a very nice pitcher (sophomore Alysha Scheidt) who is going to win a lot more games for Van Wert. (I'm) probably more pleased how we executed in bunt situations."
Celina got the scoring going in the bottom of the first with an Allison Hoying one-out single. Julia Siefring bunted to advance the runner but reached safely when the first baseman dropped the ball from her glove to put runners on first and third. Kelli Williams stepped up and doubled both runners home and later scored when Megan Harner singled.
The second inning was a lot like the first inning as Jenna Schleucher bunted her way on first to start. Siefker followed with a single and Hoying advanced the runners on a bunt before Siefring loaded the bases on a fielders choice gone wrong.
Williams stepped up again and hit a long single, scoring Schleucher and Siefker. Siefring later scored on a steal attempt of third when the ball went into the outfield on an errant Van Wert play.
Celina added another run in the fourth before going quiet in the fourth and fifth innings. In the sixth, though, the top of the order was up and ready to score again.
Siefker singled to lead off the inning and Siefring put runners on the corners with a single after one out. After Siefring stole second -- her fourth steal of the day -- Williams singled both runners home and Shay Adams later singled home Williams to round out the scoring.
Williams, who strained her thumb on the glove hand early in the week, was a question mark to play in the game. Hendricks and the Bulldogs were glad she did, though, as the senior went 3-for-4 with six runs batted in, pushing her past Billie Jo Carder for the Bulldogs' career RBI title.
"Kelli's been clutch for four years," said Hendricks. "This is the second game where she's had six RBI. Actually, up until a couple of hours before the game, we weren't sure if she'd be allowed to play. But she got the okay from the trainer. That put her at the top of career RBI, so that's pretty exciting for her."
Melanie Heyne made sure that all the runs were just topping on the cake as the sophomore had control over the Cougars hitters. Heyne scattered three hits and issued two walks while striking out seven on the day.
"The problem we had is that we didn't defend their short game very well," said Van Wert coach Tom Mosier. "That was the game. When we got down 6-0, essentially the game is over. ... We hit Celina on a good night and we were a little flat. You can't be down when you play Celina."
Siefker, Adams, Harner and Kramer each added two hits for Celina.
The Bulldogs continue WBL play tonight at Bill Feth Diamond, hosting Shawnee.