Panthers top Jags to clinch area championship

Pelham High School eighth-grader Becky Fox started the Panthers’ Class 6A, Area 10 game against Spain Park like a pitcher who found out just hours before the game that she was taking the circle with an area championship on the line.

Fox settled in after a rough first inning to lead the Panthers to an 11-2 win over the Jaguars in their final Area 10 game to help Pelham clinch the area title April 21 following forfeits by Class 6A, Area 10 leader Hoover.

Hoover self-reported an eligibility roster violation April 21 and forfeited 17 total games, including three Class 6A, Area 10 contests. Pelham (21-12, 6-2 in Class 6A, Area 10) will now host the Area 10 tournament despite two losses to the Bucs on the field.

Fox loaded the bases after the first three Spain Park batters and allowed two runs to cross the plate before recording the final out of the inning. It turned out to be the only difficult inning for Fox, who gave up only two earned runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and a walk in a complete game.

Fox (12-4) shut down the Spain Park lineup in the final six innings. Meanwhile, the Panthers scored six runs in the fourth inning, four runs in the fifth and one run in the sixth to erase the early deficit.

Eight Pelham batters recorded a hit. Sara Smith, Emily Sharman, Heather McGuirk, Erin Whitman, Lindsey Pyle, Melanie Tittle, Caitlyn Sapp and Emily Spain each recorded a hit.

Sapp had a three-run double. Pyle finished with two RBIs. Whitman and Spain drove in a run each.

Smith, Sharman, Whitman, Pyle and Tittle scored two runs each. Sapp scored one run.

Spain Park finished with eight hits in the game. April Scott, Lauren Tant and Keri Krake finished with two hits each.

Amanda Ballew and Casey Craig added one hit each. Ballew and Craig drove in one run each.

Scott and Tant scored a run each.

Channing Haynes took the loss for the Jaguars after giving up three earned runs on five hits with two strikeouts and a walk in 3 1/3 innings.

Julie Knight gave up four unearned runs on one hit with two walks in 1 1/3 innings in relief. Sammy Sisson allowed one earned run on two hits with three walks in the final 1 1/3 innings.