Pelham puts together 4-1 showing to win Montevallo tournament

Published 4:41 pm Sunday, March 19, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

MONTEVALLO – Following losses in five of their last seven games entering the Montevallo softball tournament, the Pelham Panthers were looking to get back on track and make a statement on Saturday, March 18, and they did just that.

Pelham not only put together a strong showing at the tournament, but the Panthers put together three wins in a row and won four of five, including a 7-1 win over West Blocton in the championship game to claim the tournament and improve to 8-6 on the season.

They built off of a 7-5 victory over John Carroll earlier in the week by taking down Verbena, West Blocton and Shelby County early on Saturday before losing 3-2 to West Blocton.

With their early success, however, they had one more game against West Blocton that they were able to win 7-1 to cap off a busy day of five games with a championship win.

In the first game against Verbena to open the tournament, Pelham used a fast start in the first two innings to create the necessary separation.

Verbena struck first with two runs in the top of the first, but Pelham responded with two of its own in the bottom half. Then, an eight-run second inning made the difference, giving the Panthers a 10-2 lead.

Verbena did score five in the top of the third to get within three, but that was the team’s last opportunity at the plate, as Pelham picked up a 10-7 victory.

Alaina Stewart and Rebecca Roy led the way at the plate with two hits and two RBIs each in the win, while Jessica Gray added two hits and an RBI and Shelby-Grace Bailey totaled one hit and two RBIs.

Ryann Jones got the win in the circle, pitching all three innings and allowing three earned runs on three hits with four strikeouts.

In the first of three games against West Blocton on the day, the Panthers used three runs in each of the first two innings to create all of the necessary separation in a 6-3 win.

West Blocton struck first with three in the top of the first, but Pelham scored six unanswered between the first two innings to pick up the three-run win in four innings.

Jordan Howard led the way at the plate with a 3-for-3 game featuring one RBI and two runs scored.

McKenzie Little got the complete-game win, allowing six hits and three runs with two strikeouts.

Then came a county battle with Shelby County in game three, and the Wildcats got off to a strong start with a four-run top of the first.

Pelham did score one in the bottom of the first and one more in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit in half at 4-2.

But, it was the fifth inning that featured all of the fireworks.

Trailing by two and down to their final chance, the Panthers used four consecutive singles to kick off the inning, eventually tying the game at 4-4 with back-to-back RBI singles from Emery Plunkett and Bailey.

An intentional walk then loaded the bases with one out shortly after, which led to a walk-off sacrifice fly from Howard in a 5-4 victory.

Bailey led the way with two hits and an RBI in the win, while Jordan Howard added two RBIs on one hit and Taylor Howard added two hits with a run scored.

Gray picked up the win in the circle by pitching the final four innings and allowing no runs or walks with three hits and one strikeout.

In the next game against West Blocton, the Panthers fell behind 2-0 through one and 3-0 through the top of the third before they answered with two in the bottom of the third.

That, however, was the closest they got in a 3-2 loss.

That set up one final game against West Blocton to determine who would walk away with the championship.

Following a scoreless inning, it was Pelham who found the necessary offensive consistency to pick up the tournament win.

The Panthers scored one in the second and three each in the third and fourth innings to take a 7-0 lead.

Down to the final chance, West Blocton led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run and then followed with two singles, but three consecutive outs from there preserved a 7-1 victory for Pelham to claim the championship.

Plunkett led the way with a 3-for-3 game featuring two RBIs, while Stewart, Gray and Jordan Howard all had two hits. Roy totaled two RBIs, while Bailey and Gabriella Vickers each added one hit and one RBI.