South Panola Fastpitch
By Brad Greer
Payback can be, well, you know.
After losing game two of the best-of-three series 4-2 at the hands of Southaven to force a deciding game Saturday afternoon, the South Panola Lady Tigers huddled together in left field and faced the possibility that their season could be over with.
But just like true champions do, the Lady Tigers bounced back in game three to blank the Chargers 10-0 in six innings for the North 5A championship. The Lady Tigers will begin defense of their state title by hosting South champion Harrison Central at 1 p.m Saturday in game one of a best-of-three series.
Game 2 and if necessary, game 3 will be played at Harrison Central next Monday at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Red Rebelettes (20-16) swept Brandon 8-7 and 2-1 to advance to the championship.
In the nightcap Saturday, South Panola pounded out 16 hits, all of which were singles, while riding the pitching of Whitney Kiihnl to the victory.
“ Coach (Ashleigh) Hicks told us in between games that this could be the last time we would wear a South Panola jersey and that kind of hit home to us. We were not going out like this,” said Kiihnl.
South Panola (27-4) jumped on Southaven starting pitcher Kim Adams, who also pitched the first game of the doubleheader, for a pair of runs in the first inning. Hillari Plummer laid down a bunt single and later scored on a RBI single by Stormy Robison.
The Tigers Lady added to the lead in the third by adding on another pair of runs for a 4-0 lead. Kiihnl and Plummer both singled to lead off the inning then advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Halie Plummer. Cleanup hitter Casi Brooks was walked to load the bases.
Robison singled to left for her second RBI of the game. Courtesy runner Kelsay Hancock later scored on an error.
South Panola then put the game away by sending 10 batters to the plate in a six-run sixth inning. Haley Hood, Kiihnl and Hillari Plummer led off the inning with hits. Brooks followed with a RBI single up the middle. Kasey Kelsay, Jennifer Newcomb and Hood all delivered RBI singles. Hood’s second hit of the inning plated Kelsay to end the game.
Hillari Plummer led the offensive charge with four hits while Kiihnl and Robison each had three. Robison added a pair of RBI’s while Hillari Plummer, Brooks, Kelsay, Newcomb and Hood all had one RBI each.
Newcomb also came up with the defensive gem of the day by making an outstanding catch in left field to preserve the shutout.
Kiihnl (25-3) recorded the pitching win by giving up four hits over six innings while striking out seven and walking one. The senior pitched all 20 innings of the series, allowing one earned while striking out 35 on five hits.
In the first game, South Panola jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning but three errors led to their downfall. Southaven loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth inning. Leadoff hitter Kayla Wilson hit a grounder that went under first basemen Ellen Farrish’s glove to score two runs.
The Chargers took the lead for good one inning later when Brooke Davis led off with a triple and later scored on a Kiihnl error.
The Tigers registered six hits in the game led by Haylei Plummer’s triple and two singles. Robison, Kiihnl and Hillari Plummer each recorded singles.