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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Evan HolmesSenior Ellie Clay goes through her pitching motion to strike out a Versailles batter. Clay struck out 13 batters last Tuesday night.

After two consecuative victories over South Callaway and Eugene, the Lady Pintos softball team turned its attention to their Tri-County Conference rival, the Versailles High School Lady Tigers.

The two teams had met back on Aug. 28, when the Lady Pintos were defeated by the Lady Tigers 10-9. California came into last Tuesday's matchup as the underdog with a 5-6 record, compared to Versailles' 6-3 record. The Lady Tigers ultimately came out on top again this time, dispatching California 6-5 in an 11-inning nail-biter.

Head coach Steven Stock tapped his senior ace Ellie Clay to be the starting pitcher. Clay starred in an epic pitcher showdown against Lady Tigers ace Joscelynn Marriott. Both teams traded punches throughout the entire contest as the lead see-sawed back and forth for seven innings. Every time the Lady Tigers put runs on the board, the Lady Pintos always had an answer. After six innings, the game entered the seventh tied at 3-3.

When junior Grace Dampf hit a go-ahead two-run RBI double to right-center field in the top of the seventh, the Pintos took a 5-3 lead, only three outs away from their first three-game winning streak of the season. But with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Versailles scored two runs to tie the game at 5-5 and send it into extra innings.

Both teams fought to a standstill up until the tenth inning, when California had the bases loaded with one out. The Lady Pintos grounded in a double-play to the pitcher and the game continued into the eleventh inning. In the bottom of the 11th inning, the Lady Tigers were up to bat with the winning run on third. Ellie Clay threw a strikeout for out number two. Then, catcher Ella Percival threw to third base, but the throw got away from the third baseman and the winning run scored to give Versailles the 6-5 victory.

The loss was a tough one for the Lady Pintos to take at the hands of Versailles, Stock said. In a roller coaster type of season for California, it was certainly a down on the up-and-down ride. However, despte the bitter defeat, Stock praised his team for their effort.

"We have to keep our heads up. That was a great game we just played," Stock said to his team after the game. "We need to learn how to close games, win innings and let the game play itself out from there. We're more than capable of playing like this all the time."

California suffered another 12-1 defeat at the hands of Southern Boone Thursday, which dropped their overall record to 5-8. The Lady Pintos will look to get back to winning ways this week, aided by a Monday night 14-11 win against Knob Noster. California returns home for a clash with Pilot Grove Thursday.

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