South Panola Fastpitch Softball
By Myra Bean
There is a reason the South Panola Lady Tiger fastpitch softball team is No. 1 in the state – eliminating the No. 2 team from contention being the main one.
In the first round of the 2008 playoffs, the No. 2 Horn Lake Lady Eagles (19-4) drew the Lady Tigers’ number and hosted the first day of the playoffs. South Panola (25-3) was No. 2 in Division 2 behind Tupelo. Horn Lake was No. 1 in Division 1 ahead of Southaven.
Even though South Panola and Tupelo split the district series in the regular season, in head-to-head action Tupelo outscored the Lady Tigers, hence the standings.
Horn Lake was trying to force a game 3 Tuesday by tying the second game at two with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning. In fastpitch extra innings, each team gets a runner on second base, the last batter out from the previous inning.
Shortstop Hillari Plummer was on base for the Lady Tigers. The bases were loaded with third baseman Haylei Plummer with a single and catcher Casi Brooks with a walk.
Stormy Robison singled to drive home Hillari Plummer from third base which ended up being the game winning single RBI. Sophomore Robison had struggled at the plate all the day, but came through in the clutch. For the two games, she was 1-for-8.
Haylei Plummer was out at home and the Lady Tigers ended with the bases loaded.
When it was Horn Lake’s time to bat, Lady Tiger pitcher Whitney Kiihnl proved why she was named Miss Softball for 2007. Battling tightenting muscles after pitching two full games, she struck out two of four batters. Horn Lake third baseman/pitcher Kasey “K.B.” Baddley was intentionally walked and the final batter grounded out to Kasey Kelsay at second. Kelsay made a smooth throw to Ellen Farrish at first for the third and final out for the win.
South Panola scored in the top of the second inning on a Haley Hood double RBI which scored Kelsay who had doubled to get on base. Farrish was hit by a pitch, but she and Hood were the victims of a double play to end the inning.
The Lady Tigers went ahead 2-0 in the top of the third inning on a Brooks RBI single to drive home Kiihnl who had doubled to left field to get on base.
Horn Lake scored in the bottom of the third inning on a single RBI. A double RBI in the bottom of the seventh sent the game into an extra inning.
Hitting in the game were Kiihnl, 1-for-4, 1 double; Haylei Plummer, 3-for-4, 1 double; Brooks, 2-for-4, 1 RBI; Robison, 1-for-4, 1 RBI; Kelsay, 1-for-4, 1 double; Farrish, 1-for-4; and Hood, 2-for-3, 1 double, 1 RBI. The Lady Tigers had seven hits, two walks and seven strikeouts in the game. Eight runners were left on base.
Kiihnl pitched the complete game, striking out 17 batters and walking four. Three were intentional walked to Baddley.
The two teams knew they were in for a battle on that windy, cool afternoon and they both came prepared to play. South Panola scored in the first and second innings and that was it. They held Horn Lake scoreless with an almost flawless performance by the Lady Tiger team.
Kiihnl got on base on a single in the top of the first and came home on a double RBI by Brooks to right center field.
In the top of the second, Farrish scored on a Hood single. Horn Lake’s second baseman underthrew the ball to the first baseman. The ball hit first base and bounced into the Lady Tiger dugout as Hood got on base and Farrish was safe at home.
The Lady Tigers loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning, but a double play ended the run.
Two errors put Horn Lake on base in the first inning, but two strikeouts later ended their hopes. Kiihnl fanned four of the next six batters to go into the top of the fourth inning, where Baddley doubled and then advanced to third on a ground ball to Kelsay. She was left as the next batter struckout.
Kiihnl fanned the next five batters until Baddley was up again. She doubled on two outs. Farrish ended the inning with a flyball catch. In the bottom of the seventh, two strikeouts and a flyball to Hood in center gave the Lady Tigers the victory.
Kiihnl waved 15 batters, had one error, allowed no walks, two hits and no runs.
Hitting for the Lady Tigers were: Kiihnl, 2-for-4; Hillari Plummer, 1-for-4; Haylei Plummer, 1-for-4, one walk; Brooks, 2-for-4, 1 double, 1 RBI; Farrish, 2-for-3; and Hood, 1-for-3, 1 RBI.
Madison Central (19-6) swept Warren Central 3-0, 8-0 Saturday in the first round Division 3 and 4 action. Southaven (15-7) and Tupelo (22-4) split their series Saturday. Southaven won the first game 7-1 and Tupelo rallied hard to win the second game 2-1 to force game three on Tuesday.
South Panola, being the No. 2 seeded team, will have to travel Thursday to Madison Central, being the No. 1 seeded team in its district. The two teams will play games 2 and 3 if necessary at South Panola on Saturday. Thursday’s game will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday’s games begin at 1 p.m.
The Lady Tigers defeated Madison Central 4-1 in the Clarksdale Tournament on March 15.
The winner of this tournament will meet the winner of the other part of the north side in the north state tournament beginning Thursday, April 24.
The Tupelo/Southaven winner will meet the winner of the Northwest Rankin/Clinton game. Clinton won the first game 4-1, but game 2 was not played until Monday. Game three, if necessary, will be played today.
The state softball championships will be played on May 3 and 6. Game 1 will be played at the north site on Saturday, May 3 at 1 p.m. and games 2 and 3, if necessary will be played at the south site on Tuesday, May 6 at 4 and 6 p.m.
In South Division 5/6, Meridian hosted Terry in a doubleheader yesterday and will play game 3 today if necessary. Harrison Central of Division 8 swept Division 7 winner Ocean Spring, 3-1, 12-3 and awaits winner of Meridian/Terry series.
Division 6 winner Brandon (15-12-1) swept Oak Grove Friday 12-2, 10-4. Oak Grove was the state 5A runner up and past state 5A champion until South Panola ended their run last year.
Brandon awaits the winner of the Petal/George County series. Petal and George County split the series Saturday. Petal won the first game 3-2 and George County the second 4-1. They play today for the winner.