Pelham softball takes area title

Pelham's Caitlyn Sapp scored two runs in a 5-3 win over Spain Park May 2. (FILE)

Pelham’s Emily Spain scored a run in a 5-3 win over Spain Park May 2. (FILE)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

It took a well-fought series with Spain Park, but the Pelham Panthers softball team are the champions of AHSAA Class 6A, Area 8.

The Panthers clinched the title —and punched their ticket to the regional tournament in Troy— with a 5-3 win over the Jaguars at home May 2.

To get to the title, the Panthers used a high-powered offense and strong defense to take down the Chelsea Hornets in the opener. Both teams opened the game scoreless after an inning, but Pelham scored 5 unanswered runs on the way to a 6-1 win.

The Panthers followed the win with a 10-0 victory over Spain Park in round two.

Pelham then took on Spain Park a second time, as the Jaguars eliminated Oak Mountain to face the Panthers in the championship round.

Needing two wins over the Panthers to take the title, the Jaguars came out strong. Spain Park took a 7-2 win in the game, forcing a third another game between the two squads.

In the third game between the two teams, Pelham used a rally to take a 5-3 win over the Jags to take the area title.

Spain Park took a 1-0 lead when Julianna Cross came home on a bases loaded walk of Destini England. The Panthers tied the game in the bottom of the second when Caitlyn Sapp scored on a passed ball. Neither team scored again until the bottom of the fourth, when Pelham used another Caitlyn Sapp run to go up 2-1.

Spain Park answered in the top of the fifth when a Mary Katherine Tedder sacrifice fly scored Casey Kizer, and a double to center by M.K. Bonamy brought home Cross to put the Jags up 3-2.

Pelham responded in the bottom of the fifth. After Mekhi Mayfield and Emily Spain walked to start the inning, Maddie Walker homered to put the Panthers up 5-3.

Neither team scored again, and the Panthers took the win and the championship.

Samantha Kusiak went the distance for Pelham, tossing two earned runs across seven innings, walking five and striking out three. At the plate, Sapp went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

The Panthers now move on to the regional tournament, against an opponent to be named later, May 9.