POPLAR BLUFF -- Sikeston's softball team saw its season come to an end on Saturday in the first round of the Class 4 District 1 Tournament.
Five errors doomed the Lady Bulldogs in an 8-0 loss to Poplar Bluff.
"It was kind of disappointing," said Sikeston coach Jenny Hobeck. "We came in hoping we could play (Poplar Bluff) better than we did earlier in the season. Defensively, we had five errors made on bunts. We either couldn't get to it, or made overthrows. That hurt us."
Poplar Bluff's Lauren Ploetze got the win, picking up her second shutout of the season. She struck out eight, including 6-of-7 starting at the end of the third inning, and allowed just three hits all day.
The Lady Mules scored twice in the second and three more in the fourth with just three hits, only one of which left the infield. Poplar Bluff squared around to bunt 10 times in the game, reaching on three hits, five Sikeston errors and a fielder's choice.
A leadoff walk to Ploetze started the Lady Mules' rally in the second inning while Welchhance and Heather Garrison joined her to load the bases with one out on bunts.
Whitney Ward grounded into a fielder's choice that brought home Ploetze, followed by a bunt single by Melissa Clark that loaded the bases again.
Samantha Gaines was then hit by a 2-2 pitch that gave Poplar Bluff a 2-0 lead.
The Mules added three in the fourth, thanks to two errors by Sikeston, and a bloop single off the bat of Lisa Wilson that drove in a run. Two wild pitches allowed Gaines and Wilson to score for a 5-0 lead.
Three more errors by Sikeston in the fifth and another in the sixth allowed Poplar Bluff to score three more runs.
"I don't think we came mentally ready," Hobeck said.
During the regular season, Poplar Bluff averaged 2.6 errors a game. But the Lady Mules were perfect in the field on Saturday. Poplar Bluff is now 5-0-1 this season when it does not make an error.
"We knew we had to play error-free to compete in districts," said Welchhance, who was 3-for-4.
Wilson and Crunk had the other two hits for Poplar Bluff while Molly Brinkmeyer, Allison Blurton and Paige Silverthorn each had a hit for Sikeston.
Blurton was charged with the loss. She pitched the first four innings for Sikeston, allowing seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts.
Brinkmeyer threw the final two frames, giving up two hits, no walks and had two strikeouts. Sikeston ends the year with a record of 7-9.
"It was a really positive season," said Hobeck. "I hate to refer to last year, but only winning two games, then coming back to win seven is a big improvement. I think it's a really good start and I hope it continues next year."
Sikeston will lose catcher Misti Clark, first baseman Kerri Jones, outfielder Sarah Reaves, Jessica Hardy and Marissa White to graduation.
"They provided a lot of leadership for the girls this year," said Hobeck. "I wish we could've done better in our district game, but all-in-all, it was a good year."
Some information in this story was provided by SEMO News Service.