Ashland's promising season was cut short Tuesday when the No. 10-ranked Jaguars of Century upset the third-ranked Grizzlies 6-4 in the second round of the OSAA Class 5A state softball tournament.

The Grizzlies (21-5) had dreams of a semifinal appearance or better, but a strong performance from Century freshman pitcher Montana McNealy and gritty plate appearances from the entire lineup dashed Ashland's hopes.

Ashland head coach Misty Potochnick believes her team's demise was due to bad timing for a bad day.

"I'm definitely disappointed because I wasn't ready for the year to be over," Potochnick said. "I felt like we had good things we could accomplish. But sometimes a bad day happens and it just happened the wrong day for us."

Early on the match-up had the feeling of a pitcher's duel. Ashland junior Bella Pribyl struck out three of the four batters faced in the first inning. The left-handed McNealy responded by striking out two in a three-up, three-down Ashland first.

Century (20-8) manufactured a pair of base runners in the second with tough at-bats. Numerous foul balls in nearly every at-bat forced Pribyl to throw a lot of pitches. However, Pribyl stayed tough and the game was scoreless through two innings.

The Jaguars got on the scoreboard first. Eeliyana Paraiso led off the third with a walk. After a pair of ground-outs moved her to third, Paraiso scored on a ground-rule double by senior Brittne Stephens.

Ashland responded in the bottom of the inning when a single by senior Sammi Gilbert brought sophomore Elizabeth Westmoreland home from third to tie it.

— — Amanda Good reacts at the end of play against Century Tuesday in Ashland.

Junior Jaimee Cannon led off the Century fourth with a ground-rule double. After two Pribyl strikeouts, Cannon scored on a line-drive double by Paraiso. After Ashland's second three-up, three-down inning of the day, Century led 2-1 through four.

It was in the fifth inning that Century took its stranglehold. After Stephens reached on an error, McNealy joined her on base with a single. The Grizzlies' second error of the inning &

a botched ground ball by Gilbert &

loaded the bases with two outs. A Pribyl pitch in the dirt got by senior catcher Kylie Cantrell to score a runner from third.

Pribyl went on to walk the next two batters she faced, the second allowing freshman Sammi Coates to trot home. Paraiso continued a great day at the plate with a two-run double to center field and by inning's end the Jaguars had built a 6-1 lead.

The Grizzlies put on their rally caps in the bottom of the fifth, kicking off the inning with a single by junior Caitlin Williams and a double by Westmoreland. One run would score on a sacrifice grounder by junior Sarah Silbowitz and a second on a double to center by Gilbert. Through five it was Century 6, Ashland 3.

After a leadoff double by Century sophomore Ashley Worthey, Pribyl was replaced on the mound by sophomore Hayley Ross. Ross retired all six batters she faced in her two innings, three by strikeout.

The Ashland bats couldn't muster any offense in the bottom of the sixth, but in the seventh they came to life.

After a leadoff walk by Westmoreland, junior Jubilee Sharpe laid down a bunt and beat out the throw to bring the tying run to the plate at the top of the order. Century's McNealy dug deep and got ground balls out of both Silbowitz and Gilbert. Gilbert's would score a run, but Century held on for the 6-4 victory.

Pribyl struck out eight in her five innings pitched while giving up six hits and six walks. McNealy struck out three while allowing seven hits and three walks in her seven innings.

Potochnick was proud of her team's effort, but was disappointed that the strong defense she has seen all season faltered Tuesday.

"I'll give Century credit, they came out and hit the ball," Potochnick said. "They were ready to play. We had some errors too though that didn't help the situation. It's hard because the kids worked so hard all year. That's the challenge of this tournament is it's just one game and it comes down to that &

single elimination."

— — Samantha Gilbert, right, is tagged out by Ashley Worthey,left, at home plate in the third inning during play against Century Tuesday in Ashland.

Sports editor Joe Zavala can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or joe.