Panthers fall short of finals in extra innings
By Staff Reports | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jemison Panther softball team made the most of their third straight trip to the AHSAA South Central Regional tournament, but fell just short of a trip to the Elite Eight in Montgomery.
Jemison posted a 2-2 record, with both losses coming in extra innings to the squads from the region that did advance to the state tourney.
The heartbreaking finish did nothing to diminish an outstanding season, in which the Panthers posted 32 wins against just eight losses, with seven of the eight defeats coming at the hands of teams that were ranked near the top of the 2017 polls in Class 5A or 6A.
JEMISON 4, BEAUREGARD 3
JHS took a tournament-opening win over Beauregard and top-ranked 5A pitcher Bailie Barnes, a UAB signee.
The victory came thanks to a big third inning that saw consecutive singles from Jessica Paschal, Madison Moore, Hannah Rose Corbin and Destiny Bailey.
The offensive explosion was enough to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead that they did not relinquish, despite a late charge from Beauregard.
Moore and Corbin led Jemison at the plate with two hits each, while Corbin went 5-2/3 innings on the mound for the win.
Kennise Bolton came into the game in the sixth inning in relief to pick up the save.
MOODY 7, JEMISON 6 (8 innings)
After falling behind 3-0 in the early going, the Panthers rebounded with five runs of their own in the third and fourth innings.
In the top of the third, Paschal drew a walk to get things started and was pushed to third on back-to-back singles by Moore and Corbin.
Consecutive walks to Bailey and Shelby Crowson plated two more runs to tie the score at three apiece.
In the fourth, Kelsey Lowery singled, and following a double off the bat of Paschal and Corbin drove in both runners with a shot to right field, giving JHS a 5-3 lead.
The Panthers added to the lead in the top of the seventh when Erristen Evans was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on an infield grounder from Lowery.
In the bottom of the final inning of regulation, however, Moody got a three-run homer from Lindsay Richardson to send the game into extra innings.
After Jemison went scoreless in the top of the eighth, Moody’s Sidney Wagnon doubled into the left center field gap with one out to score Bailey Adams with the winning run.
Moore, Corbin, and Jasmine Epperson each had two hits for the Panthers, while Corbin pitched seven innings and recorded 11 strikeouts.
JEMISON 5, SYLACAUGA 3
Once again, JHS saw its offense score in bunches, but this time was able to pull out a win, knocking off the Aggies 5-3 to stay alive in the tournament.
In the bottom of the first, Paschal singled, Corbin walked, and both scored when Bailey hit a low liner into center field.
Sylacauga answered with two runs in the top of the fifth, but the Panthers immediately responded with three runs of their own to go back on top.
Corbin and Bailey both reached on hard ground balls and Epperson’s single to center scored Logan Woodley, who had entered the game to run for Corbin.
Bailey then scored on Crowson’s groundout, and after being hit by a pitch earlier, Evans scored on a sacrifice fly from Bolton to give the panthers a 5-2 lead.
Sylacauga added one final run in the seventh, but Corbin shut down the threat to pick up the win in relief of Bolton.
Corbin and Epperson registered two hits apiece, while Bailey had a pair of RBIs.
MARBURY 4, JEMISON 3 (9 innings)
The Panthers squared off with a familiar opponent in their next elimination game, as they met Area 6 foe Marbury for the sixth time this season and the final meeting could not have been more dramatic.
In a game that featured four ties and four lead changes, the game came down to a suicide squeeze from Marbury in the bottom of the ninth to earn a shot at the state title and end Jemison’s incredible 32-8 season.
Jemison went up 1-0 in the second inning when Moore walked and later scored on Corbin’s two-out single.
Marbury tied the score in the bottom of the inning and went up 2-1 in the third.
After a couple of silent innings from both teams, the Panthers awoke with two runs in the sixth to regain the lead.
Bolton drew a walk and was replaced on the bases by Woodley, who immediately scored on a triple off the bat of Epperson.
Charlsie Murphy then ripped a single through the infield to score Epperson and give JHS a 3-2 advantage.
Marbury squeezed home the tying run in the bottom of the seventh, a strategy that would play into the final outcome of the game.
With the score still knotted at 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Marbury got a leadoff double and returned to their small ball game by laying down consecutive bunts to score the winning run.
Epperson ended her JHS career with a three-hit game to pace the Panthers, as Corbin contributed two.
Despite losing three outstanding seniors in Bailey, Epperson and Paschal, the Panthers have a wealth of talent returning in 2018 including their entire pitching staff as part of seven full or part time starters from this season.