New Ada head softball coach Taylor Canida-Henry saw plenty of silver linings in the dark cloud of a tough 9-7 loss to Pauls Valley in Monday’s season-opener at the Ada High Softball Complex.

The Lady Panthers scored two unearned runs in the top of the seventh and then held off Ada for a final time to secure the victory in the back-and-forth affair.

“I’m so proud of them. When we got down 3-0 ... it would have been easy for them to say ‘Well, it’s just like last year,’ and fold. But what I’m most proud of is they dug deep and fought the whole time,” Canida-Henry said.

Pauls Valley struck first with three unearned runs in the top of the second inning, but Ada hurler Alyssa Colungo settled in and kept the visitors in check through the first five frames.

“I’m proud of Colungo. I ride her tail, but she kept hitting her spots and kept us in it,” Canida-Henry said.

The Lady Cougars got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third, when Dixie Redman hit a two-out single and scored on a clutch RBI double — she belted a change-up by PV hurler Carlie Vestle to the gap in left-center field — to cut the AHS deficit to 3-1.

Ada erupted for four runs in the bottom of the fifth to grab a 5-3 lead.

Watkins ripped her second double of the game with a hot shot down the left field line that drove in two runs, and Torri Bray added an RBI single. The inning also included a walk by Colungo that started things off the three Pauls Valley miscues.

The Lady Panthers responded with four runs in the top of the sixth — the big blows coming on a two-run double by Abby Weatherford and a two-run home run by Logan Martin that put the visitors back on top 7-5.

Weatherford proved to be a thorn in Ada’s side the entire game, finishing 5-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs.

Ada got a run in the bottom of the sixth ,when Colungo singled and raced home on a double steal to get the hosts within 7-6.

Pauls Valley pushed across two error-aided runs in the top of the seventh to stretch its lead to 9-6.

Ada got a run back in the bottom of the seventh and had runners and first and second with no outs. But Madison Wilson smashed a line drive to PV second baseman Jaylee Winlock, who made a nice catch and turned it into a double play that short-circuited the Lady Cougars’ final comeback attempt.

“We capitalized on some of Pauls Valley’s errors, and we hit well. Unfortunately, some of our hard hits were caught. But if we keep doing that, we’ll be fine. I’m just so proud of their fight,” Canida-Henry said.

Ada collected 10 hits in the contest, led by Watkins, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs. Redman added two hits and scored twice.

“I’m also extremely proud of Dixie Redman and Kaley Watkins. Those two seniors came up with some big hits,” Canida-Henry said.

Avery Brown reached on a pair of infield hits for the Lady Cougars.

Ada played at Sulphur Tuesday night and travels to Roff at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Stratford at 5 p.m. Friday.

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.