A Hartville player flies through the air after tripping on Houston catcher Stephani Crewse in Thursday’s district game.

AVA –– The rally caps almost worked.

The Houston softball team nearly pulled off an improbable comeback last Thursday in the district semifinals. Trailing Hartville 9-2 in the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Tigers managed to put the potential tying runs on base before losing 9-7 at Ava High School.

Hartville advanced to Friday’s championship game and beat Ava 8-5 to win Class 2 District 1.

Houston, which was the district’s top seed, finished the season with an 8-12 record.

It was a terrible postseason start for the Lady Tigers as they were hitless through five innings and fell behind 8-0.

But the bad beginning was nearly wiped away with a strong finish.

Houston’s first five batters –– Kaitlyn Root, Kameron Hall, Carly Crawford, Taylor Chipps and Tori McCloud –– all reached base and scored in the seventh.

Houston pulled within striking distance on Ellie Bradshaw’s RBI groundout and only trailed by two when Emily Roberts reached on a run-scoring infield single. But with the tying runs on second and third base, Hartville got a pop-up to end the rally and advance.

Crawford, who had Houston’s first hit of the game in the fifth, was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Chipps doubled and also scored twice.

Crawford, Stephani Crewse, Bradshaw and Roberts all had RBIs for the Lady Tigers.

Roberts took the complete-game loss. She surrendered 11 hits while striking out two and walking three.

Friday’s score

Championship

Hartville 8, Ava 5

Thursday’s scores

Semifinals

Hartville 9, Houston 7

Ava 12, Mansfield 9

Wednesday’s scores

First round

Hartville 11, Gainesville 2

Mansfield 16, Seymour 1

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