The Prowler

Lady Panthers mercy rule Bears twice, advance to second round

Sophomore+Lauren+Flanders+runs+to+first+base.+The+Lady+Panthers+consistently+got+on+base+during+both+games.+Starr%E2%80%99s+Mill+was+also+able+to+steal+bases%2C+allowing+them+to+have+runners+in+scoring+position.
Sophomore Lauren Flanders runs to first base. The Lady Panthers consistently got on base during both games. Starr’s Mill was also able to steal bases, allowing them to have runners in scoring position.

Sophomore Lauren Flanders runs to first base. The Lady Panthers consistently got on base during both games. Starr’s Mill was also able to steal bases, allowing them to have runners in scoring position.

Shelby Foster

Shelby Foster

Sophomore Lauren Flanders runs to first base. The Lady Panthers consistently got on base during both games. Starr’s Mill was also able to steal bases, allowing them to have runners in scoring position.

Ty Odom, Staff Writer

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After finishing the regular season with a 12-0 region record and a 26-2 overall record, the Lady Panthers softball team matched up against the Griffin Lady Bears in a double-header in the first round of the Region 3-AAAAA playoffs.  Starr’s Mill defeated the Bears 16-1 and 8-0 in the regular season, and dominated again Wednesday night. Both games ended in mercy rule after three innings with scores of 15-0 and 17-0.

The girls understand that it’s win or go home from here on out.”

— head coach Mark Williamson

“We come ready to play every game,” head coach Mark Williams said. “The girls understand that it’s win or go home from here on out.”

Sophomore second baseman Lauren Flanders led the team with four steals, freshman pitcher Lilli Backes had five strikeouts, and senior designated hitter Kate Ashmore became the all-time RBI leader for Starr’s Mill in the series.

The top of the first inning was a quick three up, three down. Backes struck out Griffin’s first batter, and the second was thrown out at first base. The third batter was thrown out at first by sophomore catcher Alex Lombardo after a dropped third strike, bringing a swift end to the top of the inning.

In the bottom of the first inning, Flanders led off with a base hit, and stole second base when senior Lea Duben was at the plate. After the steal, Duben hit a double. An error by the Griffin defense allowed Flanders to score the first run. Ashmore got on base after being hit by a pitch, and sophomore Jolie Lester brought in Duben for the second run of the game despite being thrown out. Backes followed with a base hit, bringing Ashmore home. After scoring the third run, junior Paige Andrews’ pop fly was caught by a Bears outfielder and senior Wakana Sato was thrown out at first. At the end of the first inning, the Panthers held a 3-0 lead over the Lady Bears.

The top of the second inning was the same as the first. Backes struck out the first batter, the second batter was thrown out at first, and a fly out by the third batter brought Starr’s Mill back up to bat.

The bottom of the second inning started with a double by senior shortstop Alyssa Angelo, and freshman Sydney Blair was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. A bunt and base hit by Flanders left the bases loaded for Duben, who was walked, which allowed Angelo to score. Ashmore was next up to bat with the bases still loaded, and she drove in two RBIs with a double. Lester followed with a base hit which brought home another RBI, and stole second base after a wild pitch. A double by Backes allowed the Lady Panthers to score another two runs, and a base hit by junior Paige Andrews scored one more run. A fly ball hit by Sato was caught for the first out, but a second double by Angelo brought Andrews home.

“I kept my head down on the ball,” Angelo said. “My teammates also had my back, which gave me confidence.”

After Angelo’s double, Blair was able to get on base with a single, and stole second base after another wild pitch. Flanders followed with another base hit and an RBI. The inning ended after two outs in a row, a ground out hit by Duben and a fly out by Sato. At the end of the second, the Lady Panthers were up 12-0 over Griffin.

With a significant lead going into the top of the third inning, Backes struck out all three of the batters she pitched to, which quickly put the Mill back on offense.

In the bottom of the third inning, Lester, Backes, and Andrews got on base on the first three at bats. With the bases loaded, Sato brought the baserunners in with a walkoff double to give the Panthers a 15-0 win.

After an extended break due to inclement weather, the second game started with Starr’s Mill up to bat.

“[The team] can go into the locker room and relax while [Griffin] is stuck out in the elements,” Williamson said. “That’s the good thing about home field advantage.”

Shelby Foster
Junior Paige Andrews winds up a pitch. In the second game, Andrews struck out four batters. Freshman Lilli Backes also struck out five batters in the first game.

Flanders led off the top of the first inning by getting on base after being hit by a pitch, and stole second and third base while Duben was at the plate, who allowed her to score after a base hit. Duben also stole second and third when Ashmore was at bat. After Ashmore was walked, Lester brought Duben home with a double, and Backes brought Ashmore home with a base hit and another RBI. Sato was also walked after four balls, and Angelo allowed Lester to score with another base hit. Griffin changed pitchers after Angelo’s RBI, but the change did not help. Junior Kendall Robinson hit a pop fly which was caught by a Bears outfielder, but still got the RBI as Blair scored. Flanders loaded the bases when she was walked, and another run was scored by Sato when Duben was walked. On the next at bat, Ashmore hit a single which drove in two RBIs, which made her the Starr’s Mill all-time RBI leader.

“It’s really exciting,” Ashmore said. “My coaches helped me a lot, and so did my teammates because they give me the opportunity to hit them in.”

The top of the first inning continued when Lester was walked, putting a runner on first and third base. Backes allowed Duben to score with a base hit, and Andrews added another RBI despite having her pop fly caught. After Andrews’ RBI, Sato and Angelo were walked, allowing Lester to score. The top of the inning came to a close after Robinson’s pop fly was caught, but the Mill still had a 12-0 lead over Griffin.

Andrews replaced Backes as the pitcher for the second, but got off to a shaky start, allowing her first batter to hit a double. She followed with a quick strikeout, and Sato caught the third batter’s fly ball. Andrews walked the next batter, but a ground out put an end to the first inning, leaving Griffin scoreless.

The second inning started strong for the Mill with a double by Flanders. However, Duben could not capitalize as she was thrown out a first base. Ashmore did capitalize and brought Flanders home with a single, giving her another RBI. Blair followed with another base hit, and Ashmore stole home after a wild pitch while Backes was up to bat, who also allowed Blair to score off of a base hit. Andrews hit a double which advanced Backes to third base, and Angelo brought her home with an RBI off of a pop fly which was caught. After only two outs, the top of the inning was ended early.

The bottom of the second inning was also ended after two outs after a runner was caught stealing and tagged out at third base and Andrews struck out the final batter.

The Lady Panthers ended the top of the third inning quickly with three sacrifice bunts by Robinson, Flanders, and Duben, respectively.

Andrews struck out the first batter in the bottom of the third inning, but walked the next. However, Starr’s Mill got the runner out at second base for the second out. After walking her fourth batter, Andrews struck out the fifth batter to ice the game and win the series for the Lady Panthers with a final score of 17-0.

“We had to face adversity with the rain and the delays,” Ashmore said. “We just learn how to overcome that.”

Starr’s Mill will play Whitewater for the region championship.  The Wildcats saw their best-of-three games series against McIntosh delayed multiple days due to weather.  When the skies cleared enough for the games to resume, Whitewater defeated the Chiefs 7-1 and 16-0. 

Starr’s Mill, the No.1 seed in the region, hosts a doubleheader versus Whitewater beginning at 5 p.m. on Oct. 2.

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