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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Evan HolmesStarting pitcher senior Ellie Clay recorded four strikeouts in seven innings against St. Elizabeth High School.

The California High School Lady Pintos softball team played host to the St. Elizabeth Lady Hornets Monday night and hit another bump in the road early in the season.

The Lady Pintos were defeated by the Lady Hornets 5-4, dropping their record so far to 1-4. All five of California's games this season have been decided by one run, and this seems to have created a mental hurdle that the Lady Pintos will have to find a way to get over.

The good news for California is that there is still a lot of season left for them, and they have always been on the cusp of pulling out a win in each of their contests. Unfortunately, the Lady Pintos ran into some trouble in the field Monday; they committed four errors, including a miscommunication on a flyball where the ball went off of the glove of the shortstop after she collided with the third baseman.

Head coach Steven Stock said it's these self-inflicted wounds that have cost the Lady Pintos runs, outs and games in the early weeks on the season.

"We came out in the first inning and it looked like we were going to be okay. And then, we make a bad pitch or a wild pitch or doing something self-inflicting and give them an early run in the first," Stock said. "Then we got out of a few innings. And then, give them an inning where they get two girls running to third base and we get another self-inflicting wound by not getting them out."

In addition to their outfield struggles, the Lady Pintos had the bases loaded twice in the fourth and sixth inning, but ultimately came out of each inning scoreless. And despite making a valuable comeback by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, California's hopes for a complete comeback were dashed with a pop-up out to third base.

"Our number one priority right now is getting through one inning. We've played five games and I believe we've fallen behind in the first inning and, again, no earned runs, we're just making little mistakes," Stock said Monday. "We're just going to go into tomorrow's game (against Belle) and stay up mentally. Because we get a little down when things don't go well. But, more than anything, just try to get the first inning with no mental mistakes. Then, play the second inning and go from there."

After hosting Belle earlier this week on Tuesday, California's next matchup will take place on the road at Russellville with Calvary Lutheran Thursday at 5 p.m.

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