By Chris McCarthy
Behind a strong pitching outing from Savanna Yancey and a late-game offense surge, Southside High posted an 8-5 victory over Gadsden City on Monday (March 6) at SHS.
With the game at tied at 1-1 going into the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Panthers crossed home plate seven times over the next two innings to gain a seven-run cushion.
Yancey, who had allowed only three hits, one earned run and one walk while striking out 10, exited the game at that point. The GCHS offense got back on track following Yancey’s departure, erupting for four runs in the top of the seventh to draw within 8-5.
Yancey was summoned back with one out, and the senior hurler induced a pair of infield groundouts to end the game.
“I just told my girls to be patient at the plate but still be aggressive and that an opportunity would come,” said Southside head coach Angie Sanders. “Savanna did a good job of keeping [the GCHS hitters] off-balance. Our record (4-6) isn’t showing the team that were are right now, and I’m good with that. Our pitching and our defense is solid and our bats will get going, so we’re going to come around eventually.”
At the plate for the Lady Panthers, Smith went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, while Caroline Pope went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. All three of her hits were bunt singles.
Emilee Coker went 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored, while Lauren Hunt went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Becca Feazell had a hit, four RBI and a run scored.
The contest was a pitchers’ duel between Yancey and GCHS starter Amanda Kantzler for the first four innings. Yancey allowed just three baserunners during that time frame while retiring the side in order three times. After Katie Dupree singled home her sister Auburn in the top of the third to tie the game at 1-1, Yancey sent down the next seven GCHS batters.
The Lady Panthers took an early lead when Mallary Smith led off the bottom of the first with a base hit and scored on Feazell’s sacrifice bunt. Kantzler then kept the hosts at bay over the next few innings. Her finest moment came in the top of the fourth, when with two outs and runners on first and second she notched consecutive strikeouts to end the threat.
The Southside offense finally broke loose in the fifth, however. Pope led off with a bunt single, and respective RBI base hits from Coker, Feazell and Hunt made it 5-1 before Gadsden City (10-3) recorded an out. Yancey retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, and Coker’s two-run double and another sacrifice fly by Feazell push the Lady Panther advantage to 8-1.
The visitors didn’t throw in the towel, as Kantzler, Madison Cole, McCayla Williams and Cayla Underwood all scored before Yancey re-entered to finish what she started.
“Southside’s a good team, and once we made a few mistakes, they kind of opened it up,” said GCHS head coach Corbin Holland. “We really couldn’t get anything going at the plate [against Yancey]. But we did have some good swings. And we could have folded our tent late, but we at least fought back, so I was proud of the girls for that. To compete like we did against a top-notch team shows that we’re in the mix.”
In five innings, Kantzler allowed seven hits, three earned runs and two walks while striking out nine.
“Obviously Amanda gives us the best chance to win,” said Holland. “She’s been working hard and throwing the ball great so far.”
Auburn Dupree went 3-for-4 with a triple, two RBI and a run scored, while Williams had a hit, and RBI and a run scored.