Eighth grader storms tourney

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Pelham played some of its best softball of the season last weekend, coach Amy Sullivan said Saturday as the host Panthers fought their way into the title game of the Panther Classic at Pelham City Park.

And the reason for their recent success, Sullivan said, is strong contribution from players across the board, from the top of the lineup to the bottom and even from the bench.

Pelham won four games in the tournament before falling to John Carroll Catholic in the final.

Among the players leading the Panthers this season are a pair of eighth grade-pitchers.

Trish Zettler and Nicole Cornett combined to give Pelham a powerful one-two punch from the mound over the weekend.

Zettler (7-3) picked up wins against Alexandria, Hillcrest and Hewitt-Trussville during the tournament. She leads the team with a 0.76 ERA.

&uot;She’s a phenomenal bat too,&uot; Sullivan said.

Cornett (5-4) also proved effective during the weekend picking up the win against Walker before giving a strong effort in the 5-3 loss to John Carroll.

Another young player contributing heavily is freshman shortstop Ashley Smith.

&uot;She’s been hitting cleanup and getting some huge hits for us,&uot; Sullivan said of Smith.

From the leadoff spot, Allison Young gets on base frequently with a .650 OBP as centerfielder Ryan Elsea leads the team in batting average and total bases.

Senior Brandi Lavender is Pelham’s leading base-thief with 14 stolen bases and provides an experienced backstop for the young pitchers at catcher.

Sara Clark came back from injury to get some key hits along with third basemen Lauren Lewis.

Mary Beth Fleming and Katie Owens also provide senior leadership for the Panthers.

Pelham will travel to Briarwood to face the Lions next Tuesday after returning home from the spring break tournament in Gulf Shores