Lady Panthers defeat Fort Payne for area tournament title

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By Mike Goodson/Sports Corrrespondent

  Southside used a stellar pitching performance by Claire Graves to hold Fort Payne in a 12-3 victory on Thursday in the championship game of the Class 5A, Area 13 softball tournament at SHS.

Both the Lady Panthers and Lady Wildcats will participate in the Class 5A North Regional Tournament next weekend in Huntsville. 

Graves held Fort Payne to only one run on one hit through five innings. By that time, the game was all but out of reach. The tournament MVP, Graves, helped her cause with a three run homer in the sixth inning. 

Southside (34-12-1) pounded out 16 hits for the game. 

The win was a satisfying one for coach Angie Sanders. 

“I’m just real proud of my girls,” said Southside head coach Angie Sanders. “They’re just on a mission.”

Southside actually trailed after two innings after Fort Payne third baseman Ashlynn Holland drove a solo home run to left field to give the Ladd Wildcats a 1-0 advantage. But Southside got RBI singles from Graves and Hunter Ashcraft in the third to take a 2-1 lead.

Brittany Williams led off the fourth inning with a single, sending Paiten Kircus to the plate. With a 3-0 count, Kircus lined a home run  over the left centerfield wall. 

Williams made it 5-1 in the fifth with an RBI single that scored Morgan Holloway.

The Panthers added three more in the sixth on Graves’ homer, which scored Savannah Thomas and Savannah Elkins.

Fort Payne cut the Southside lead to 8-3 in the sixth on Punky Chappell’s RBI double and Holland’s RBI single to, but the Lady Panthers added four more in the seventh. 

Graves, Ashcraft and Williams each finished with three hits, while Kircus was 2-for-3. Thomas went 4-for-4 on the night.

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