Pelham beats Briarwood by two to advance to regionals
Published 10:39 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
HELENA – The Pelham Panthers stared elimination in the eyes on Wednesday, May 3 and didn’t flinch as they picked up a must-win game against county foe Briarwood to earn a spot in this year’s Class 6A regionals.
After beating the Lions a day earlier by a score of 10-5, Pelham fell to rival Helena 10-0 in the second game of the area tournament, which set up a win-or-go-home battle once again with Briarwood a day later.
With three wins against the Lions already in a matter of two weeks, the Panthers needed one more to keep their season alive and advance to regionals, and they did just that.
The win, however, didn’t come without some late drama.
Pelham was able to overcome a 1-0 deficit by scoring six consecutive runs between the bottom of the third and bottom of the fifth, but Briarwood didn’t roll over.
The Lions came back with a three-run top of the sixth that quickly trimmed the deficit down to two runs at 6-4.
But the Panthers had what became a crucial answer in the home half of the inning.
Before an out was even recorded in the inning, three singles, a walk and an error brought home two runs, while a ground out then added a third run to put Pelham in front 9-4 going to the top of the final inning.
Down to their final chance, the Lions put together a big rally that brought them to within two runs with two runners on base and just one out in the inning.
Pelham pitcher McKenzie Little, however, overcame the tense start to the inning and found a calming presence from there. She struck out the next batter and then forced a game-ending groundout to preserve a 9-7 win for the Panthers.
Little polished off a solid start from Ryann Jones, who gave up four runs on eight hits with three strikeouts to earn the win in the circle.
At the plate, Jessica Gray, Emery Plunkett and Rebecca Roy all had two hits in the win. Roy finished with two RBIs to tie for a game high, while the other two added one RBI each.
Shelby Grace Bailey added two RBIs on one hit, while Little finished with one hit and one RBI for the Panthers. Jordan Howard, Taylor Howard and Jones all added one hit in the victory.
Pelham went on to fall to Helena in the area championship game, but the Panthers finished as one of the top two teams in the area, giving them a trip to regionals.