By Brad Greer
In more cases than not when a pair of dominating pitchers square off against each other runs are going to be hard to come by.
That was the case Thursday night as Horn Lake’s Alison Morgan and South Panola’s Whitney Kiihnl went toe-to-toe for eight innings in a battle of top ten-ranked high school softball teams.
But in the end, it was the Lady Tigers made the most of their opportunities as senior Haylei Plummer eighth inning sacrifice fly scored Kiihnl from third base to give No.6 South Panola a 1-0 win over No.2 ranked Horn Lake.
The win by the Tigers sets up a key District 2 rematch with undefeated and top-ranked Tupelo tonight in Batesville starting at 5 p.m. with the junior varsity followed by the varsity at 6 p.m.
“We knew coming into tonight this was going to be a battle. Horn Lake has got a great team and with two great pitchers and two really good teams it was going to come to who came up with the key hit,” said South Panola head coach Ashliegh Hicks.” I thought we had some chances early in the game that we didn’t take advantage of and they (Horn Lake) had some chances to score and did not so I knew it was going to be close,” said Hicks.
Horn Lake (11-2) threatened to score in the top of the eighth inning with a runner on third and one out, but Kiihnl got out of the jam when leadoff hitter Lauren Robbins grounded out to third base. Then with Kiihnl on second base to start the bottom of the eighth inning, Freshman shortstop Hillari Plummer laid down a bunt back to Morgan who was unable to get the sliding Kiihnl at third base. Haylei Plummer then delivered Morgan’s 1-1 offering into right that chased home Kiihnl for the game-winner.
Both teams had chances to get on the scoreboard early on in the game. South Panola put runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the first, but Morgan retired Casi Brooks and Stomi Robison to end the inning. Later in the fifth, the Tigers had runners on first and second with two outs only to have Brooks to ground out. South Panola stranded seven runners on base in the game.
The Eagles meanwhile loaded the bases in the fourth only to have Kiihnl strike out Maddie Wood to end the inning. Kiihnl put on yet another outstanding pitching display by spinning a one-hitter while fanning 17 to improve to 12-2 on the year.
South Panola (13-2) collected four hits in the game. Hillari Plummer had a pair of singles while Haylie Plummer and Kiihni had singles.