Pell City Lady Panthers drops opener in doubleheader against Leeds, 8-6
by ERICH HILKERT
PELL CITY—Things looked good for the Pell City Lady Panthers at the end of the fourth inning, but slowly, painfully Leeds battled their way back into the game and won it in the end, 8-6.

“We were off all weekend,” Pell City head coach David Stanford said. “We were sloppy. None of our kids pitched very well. It’s to be expected coming off a weekend not doing anything.”

Stanford was disappointed that routine defensive plays were what ultimately resulted in his team’s loss. The team committed three errors in the final three innings and a missed tag resulted in a run.

“It was routine plays and we didn’t make them,” he said.

After trailing 1-0, the team scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Pell City scored the first run when Emma McDanal took a walk with the bases loaded. Then, pinch hitter Breanna Burton got the offense going with a single to shallow right field to give the team a 2-1 lead. McKenzie Piper followed that up with a perfectly placed single to left field to score another run. Abby McKee hit a grounder to shortstop and Abbie Ellison elected to throw home. But catcher Emily Goodwin dropped the throw, resulting in another Pell City run. Bradrecia Lane hit a double through the middle of the infield to cap the inning with two more runs scoring to make it 6-1.

“Breanna Burton came off the bench and sparked us,” Stanford said. “She got a hit right there to drive in a run that kind of sparked us.”

But Leeds scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning to cut the lead to 6-4. Goodwin led off with a double into the gap in left-center field. Kaci McClendon hit a grounder to third base for an out, but courtesy runner JaMaria Harris advance to third base. Kelsey Mitchell laid down a bunt and the throw to first base was off, leading to one run. Harris stole second base and came around to score when Shelby Musgrove singled to right field. Ellison hit a routine grounder to shortstop, but the ball made it into the gap in left-center field to put a runner on third base and second base. Kimberly Callaway hit a grounder to shortstop for an out, but it also brought in the third run of the inning.

Leeds added another run on a bunt and a missed tag in the top of the sixth to make it 6-5.

Finally in the seventh inning, Leeds tacked together three runs to take an 8-6 lead. With the bases loaded and one out, Sharon McCombs hit a fly ball to shallow left field. Unfortunately, the Pell City fielders ran into each other, the ball fell, and two runs scored. Magan Ball came around to score on a passed ball.

While Pell City got two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh, they were unable to put any runs on the scoreboard.

Abby McKee finished the game three for four with an RBI. McKenzie Piper was two for four with a run scored and an RBI. Breanna Burton went one for three with a run scored and an RBI.

Pell City will play in the area tournament at Oxford on Thursday.

“We’ll have two good days of practice,” Stanford said.

“We play Clay-Chalkville. They’ve beaten us twice this year. From my standpoint, I would rather go in having lost to them twice than having beaten them twice. Right now, I guess we would be considered the underdog. I’d rather be the chaser.”

© 2013