Lady Panthers catch fire as playoffs approach

Against McIntosh, junior Alysen Febrey pitched six innings, giving up three hits, as the Lady Panthers won 9-1.

Junior pitcher Alysen Febrey lead the Panthers through six innings with seven strikeouts, giving up only three hits to beat visiting McIntosh 9-1.

In the four games before facing McIntosh, the Panthers lost three out of four games. They lost 7-2 against local rival Whitewater, lost 5-0 against Woodland High and lost a close game against sub-region rival Northgate, 9-8. The game against Drew gave hope of a turnaround, winning 14-0.

McIntosh had lost six out of eight games before facing the Panthers. Head coach Mark Williamson felt he had prepared his team well despite the three recent loses.

“I expected us to do well in this game,” Williamson said. “I felt that we were fully prepared.”

Febrey started well, pitching a perfect first inning. In the bottom of the first, Lady Panther senior shortstop Natalie Orcutt lead off with a walk. Junior second baseman Kristen Simpson bunted her way on to first, and Febrey singled to load the bases for sophomore catcher Shelby Daniel.

On the first pitch, Daniel hit a bases-clearing triple to give the Lady Panthers an early 3-0 lead. Senior center fielder Sarah Flanders grounded out to second base, scoring Daniel and increasing the Panthers’ lead to 4-0.

“Daniel has been a good hitter this season,” Williamson said after the game. Along with 12 RBIs, she has hit .405 and has been a consistent catcher for the Lady Panthers all year.

In the second inning McIntosh scored its only run of the game. Margaret Morrow hit a leadoff double to start the inning. Delayne Rotolo followed that with an RBI single to left field. Febrey responded with three straight strikeouts to end the inning.

Both teams went scoreless in the third and fourth innings.

The Lady Panthers’ offense got going again in the fifth inning. After Simpson grounded out to start the inning, Febrey connected on a 2-1 count for a double to left-center field. Daniel followed with another double to right field after a long, 10 pitch at-bat to score Febrey and increase the lead to 5-1. Senior center fielder Sarah Flanders reached first base on an error to put runners on first and second base for freshman infielder Emily Nieuwstraten, who hit a grounder up the middle to score both Daniels and Flanders.

“We felt like their pitcher would tire out as the game went on and we would start getting some hits,” Williamson said about his team’s eight hits. McIntosh got out of the inning after freshman first baseman Jordan Childress hit into a double play, trailing 7-1.

In the sixth, Orcutt drove one to left center for a single. Simpson made her way to first by way of fielder’s choice and Febrey walked. Daniel came up to bat and hit the ball to the fences scoring Orcutt and Simpson. The game ended because of GHSA mercy rules, giving the Panthers a 9-1 win.

The win put the Panthers at 12-6 overall and 6-3 in the 4-AAAAA region. “We hope to place between third and fifth in the playoffs,” said Williamson when asked about the near future of his team. The team looks like it has a good shot at placing fourth and continuing onto playoffs.

In the four games since the McIntosh game they have won three out of four games. The margin of victory for the four games won is 54 runs. The scores were 19-0 against Morrow High, 15-0 against Forest Park High and 12-0 against Mundy’s Mill High. The Panthers have had wins and losses all year but as the region tournament approaches on Oct. 6 they have been pitching well and scoring more runs.