SP Lady Tiger fastpitch
By Myra Bean
The last time the South Panola Lady Tiger fastpitch softball team lost a game was in the Southaven Tournament March 30, 2007.
With the two wins to open the season Saturday, the Lady Tigers are on a 14-game win streak. The Lady Tigers opened last season on a 15-game win streak before back-to-back losses in the Clarksdale Tournament.
Though there were some close games after the Southaven Tournament, the Lady Tigers walked through the playoff season and state championship unscathed.
The only regular season loss came at the hands of then district foe Horn Lake on March 22.
The Lady Tigers met up with the always tough Hernando Lady Tigers in the first game of the South Panola tournament on Saturday. South Panola defeated Hernando behind the stellar pitching of ace pitcher Whitney Kiihnl, who got the win, and Kenzi Reed who pitched in relief in the top of the sixth inning and got the save. Despite the intermittent rain throughout the games, Kiihnl’s pitches were clocked at over 60 miles per hour.
Kiihnl was perfect on the mound pitching a no-hitter in five and one third innings, allowing no walks, hits or runs. She fanned 15 of the 16 batters she faced to start off the 2008 season.
Junior pitcher Reed pitched one and two third innings face nine batters, striking out one, allowing one hit and one run.
Olivia Ladner pitched the complete game and took the loss for Hernando, striking out three and walking none. The Lady Tigers got 12 hits and four runs off her.
Both teams were cold hitting in the first inning, but the Lady Tigers saw some action in the second. Catcher Casi Brooks doubled to center field to get on base as the leadoff batter.
Kasey Kelsay grounded out to first base, but it was enough for courtesy runner Latara Ferrell to make it home safely for the RBI (run batted in).
Right fielder Stormy Robinson got hit by a pitch to get on base and got to third on a passed ball after Ellen Farrish singled to get on base and get to second on the passed ball. With two outs, Haley Hood singled and drove home Robinson for the 2-0 lead.
The Lady Tigers had some intermittent hits and left the bases loaded in the fourth quarter and succumbed to the Hernando defense.
In the bottom of the sixth, Hood laid down a bunt, but was out going to second on a fielder’s choice which allowed Kiihnl to get to first. Shortstop Hillari Plummer singled to advance Kiihnl to second base. Her older sister, third baseman Haylei Plummer, singled to drive home Kiihnl from second.
Brooks hit a sacrifice-fly to center field to drive home Hillari Plummer for the 4-0 lead.
Hernando took advantage of the young pitcher and hammered away at the pitch to get on base and work Cheryl Holcomb across the plate in the top of the sixth. Three South Panola infield errors saw two other Hernando players get on base and in position to score, Emily Strong and Erica Murphy.
Hernando’s Holly Houston was up to bat when Strong was caught off third base by a surprise throw from Brooks to Haylei Plummer for the out to the end the game.
The Lady Tigers had very little trouble with the Olive Branch Lady ‘Quistors, shutting them out 15-0 in four innings. Kiihnl also got the win for this game and Robinson the save. Kiihnl faced six batters in two innings, striking out four.
Robinson, making her debut, faced seven batters in two innings, fanned three and allowed one hit.
On the 15th run to cross the plate, the officials called the game due to the mercy-run rule, which means the game can end after the third inning if one team leads by 15 or after the fifth inning if one team leads by 10 runs. The coaches agree to this before the game.
The Lady Tigers scored five runs in the first and were held scoreless in the second and third innings. They turned up the heat and scored 10 runs in the fourth inning. Olive Branch committed four errors in the game.
South Panola had 13 hits in the game. Lady Tiger head coach Ashley Hicks gave the starting lineup a break in the fourth inning and let the backup players score the needed runs to win.
Getting multiple hits were Hillari Plummer, three hits, one RBI; Kasey Kelsay, two triples, one RBI; Casi Brooks, two hits, one double, two RBIs; Ellen Farrish, two hits, one RBI; Latara Ferrell, two hits, one RBI; and Robinson, two hits including one triple, two RBIs. Other hitters include Haylei Plummer, one triple; Haley Walton, one hit, three RBIs; and Kiihnl, Kayla Roden one hit each.
The Lady Tigers are on the road for the next four contests. Today they travel to face Clinton in non-conference action beginning at 4 p.m. with the junior varsity game. Friday, the Lady Tigers will travel to Southaven for non-conference action beginning at 5 p.m. and be in Grenada Saturday for a tournament to face Brandon and New Hope. Tuesday, they travel to Cleveland. On Friday, February 29, they return home to face Grenada in the Strike Out for Cancer event.