Pelham softball team heading to regionals after 2-2 showing at area tourney

Published 11:52 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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HELENA – The Pelham Panthers won’t walk away from this year’s area tournament as area champions, but the Panthers did what they needed to do to earn a postseason trip to regionals and carry confidence with them thanks to two wins over Briarwood.

Pelham took down the Lions 11-4 to open the tournament, and, after losing to Helena 7-4 in the game after, staved off elimination with another win over Briarwood by a final score of 12-2.

The Panthers ultimately fell 2-1 to Helena to fall short of an area championship, but showed promise against the top-ranked team in the 6A classification, including a one-run lead in both games against the Huskies in this year’s area tournament.

Ultimately, it was the wins against Briarwood that earned Pelham a chance to continue the season at this year’s South Regional tournament, and the success against the Lions started early in the opening game.

The Panthers broke open a 1-1 game in the bottom of the third with a seven-run inning that gave them an 8-1 advantage.

Briarwood did respond with a three-run top of the fourth, but that became the final damage of the game for the Lions, while Pelham added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth to close out an impressive 11-4 showing.

Laini Stewart finished a triple shy of the cycle in the win thanks to a 3-for-3 game that featured a home run, a double, a single and three RBIs. Shelby Grace Bailey joined her with three hits and added two RBIs, while Taylor Howard added two hits and two RBIs.

Jordan Young finished with two hits and an RBI, while McKenzie Little chipped in a hit with two RBIs. Jessica Gray also finished with two hits, while Rebecca Roy added an RBI on one hit.

In the circle, Little got the win, giving up four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts, while Ryann Jones finished off a strong final three innings with eight strikeouts and no runs or hits allowed.

Facing the Lions a day later, this time in an elimination game, it was more of the same in an even more dominant effort.

Pelham scored six out of the gate in the opening inning and never looked back with two in the second, one in the third, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth to polish off a 12-2 victory in six innings.

Young was the leader at the plate with a 4-for-4 game featuring a home run, double, four RBIs and three runs scored. Gray had a strong showing as well with three hits with a 3-for-4 game featuring two RBIs. Roy put together two hits and two RBIs, while Bailey also added two hits with an RBI.

Briley Easton put together a 2-for-2 game, while Howard and Little each had one hit and an RBI.

Jones was dominant in the circle with seven strikeouts in the complete-game effort that only saw two runs given up on four hits to help secure Pelham’s spot at regionals.

The Panthers will now travel to Montgomery’s Lagoon Park for the Regional tournament, which is scheduled to start on Monday, May 6.