Pelham softball eliminated at state championshipsPublished 1:49am Saturday, May 17, 2014
By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor
MONTGOMERY — Two strong efforts came up short for the Pelham Panthers softball team May 16, as the Panthers fell in two consecutive games in the AHSAA Class 6A state championships.
In the opener, the Panthers took on the Albertville Aggies in a defensive struggle.
Neither team was able to put together any runs, as neither team had a base runner reach third base until Pelham loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth. Madi Walker singled to left to open the inning, with Krista Shirley serving as courtesy runner for Walker. Samantha Kusiak reached on an error after a sacrifice attempt, moving Shirley to third.
Despite having runners in scoring position, the Panthers were unable to convert them into runs as the Aggies recorded three-straight outs to keep Pelham off the board.
Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, Pelham was absolutely stifling, as pitcher Katie Lively allowed just a single hit through the first five frames of the contest.
The Panthers appeared to have a chance again, loading the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Again, the Aggies held Pelham from converting, and the score remained 0-0.
In the top of the eighth, Albertville’s Kaleigh Dies homered to center to put the Aggies up 1-0. Pelham could not answer, and the Panthers fell, 1-0.
Despite the loss, Lively tossed a gem of a performance, allowing just one run on three hits, walking two and striking out four.
With the season on the line, the Panthers took on the Baker Honeybees in an elimination game. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the contest took on a familiar tone, as they fell 5-4.
The Honeybees opened with a 3-0 lead after 3 ½ innings, but the Panthers answered when Walker homered in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to two. A Kusiak sacrifice fly scored Jordan Ingram, pulling the Panthers to within a run in the bottom of the fifth.
Baker added a run in the top of the sixth and the top of the seventh to extend the lead to 5-2.
Pelham, down to their final three outs, came out swinging. After Ingram walked to lead things off, Kristian Foster singled to put runners on first and second. A passed ball allowed both to advance a base, and another allowed Ingram to score. Caitlyn Sapp was hit by a pitch, and another passed ball allowed Foster to score to cut the lead to 5-4. After Walker struck out, Emily Spain walked to put the go ahead run on base with two outs. A ground out ended the inning, and unfortunately, the Panthers’ season.
Foster went 3-for-3 at the plate, while Ingram scored two runs in the contest. Walker and Kusiak each posted an RBI, while Spain drew two walks.
In the circle, Lively went seven innings, giving up zero earned runs on six hits, walking two and striking out two.