By Chris McCarthy/Editor
The Southside High softball team came up short of a berth in the Class 6A state championship game on Friday (May 20) in Montgomery.
After winning two straight games the loser bracket, the Lady Panthers’ season ended with a 1-0 loss to Oxford in the playback final.
The game’s lone run came in the bottom of the second inning on Amber Dempsey’s solo home run. The Lady Yellow Jackets managed only one other hit against Southside pitcher Savanna Yancey, who did not issue a walk.
But the Southside offense managed just two hits against Oxford starter JoJo Skinner and only one for extra bases – a double by Lauren Hunt in the first inning. Hunt also had a base hit in the fourth. Emilee Coker had the Lady Panthers’ other hit, a single in the sixth inning.
Earlier in the day, the Lady Panthers followed up an 8-4 playback bracket victory over Saraland with a 6-2 win over Cullman.
A three-run seventh inning turned a 3-2 SHS lead into a three-run advantage against the Lady Bearcats. The Lady Panthers loaded the bases with one out on respective base hit from Yancey and Coker and a walk by Hunt. Running for Yancey, Caroline Pope scored when Morgan Hollaway walked.
A single by Mallary Smith then drove Coker, and Hunter Ashcraft’s single in the next at-bat plated Hunt for a 6-2 lead.
The Lady Panthers had to endure a few tense moments when Yancey issues a pair of walks in the bottom of the inning, but the junior right-hander induced a groundout to shortstop for the final out.
Yancey got the win in two innings of relief for Smith. Yancey allowed two hits, no runs and three walks with one strikeout. In five innings, Smith gave up three hits, two earned runs and three while fanning two.
Ashcraft went 4-for-4 with two RBI, a run scored and three steals; Coker went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two steals; Smith and Brittany Kidd had a hit and an RBI; and Hunt had a hit and a run scored.
Against Saraland earlier today, the Lady Panthers scored four runs in the top of the eighth with the game tied 4-4. Yancey sent the Lady Spartans down in order in the bottom of the inning to secure the win.
The Lady Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Coker scored on an RBI fielder’s choice by Mollie Free. Saraland went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the second in the next inning before Morgan Hollaway’s double plated Pope and Ashcraft for a 3-2 lead.
After the Lady Spartans tied the score in the fifth, Southside went up 4-4 when Kidd scored on an error. But Saraland again forced a tie in the bottom of the inning.
Neither team scored in the seventh, forcing the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Kidd scored on Olivia Burnell’s double. With two outs, Burnell scored on an error, Pope singled in Hunt and Pope came home on an Ashcraft base hit.
In eight innings, Yancey struck out three while allowing seven hits and two walks.
Ashcraft had two hits, an RBI and a run scored; Pope had a hit, an RBI and two runs scored; Hollaway had a hit and two RBI; Kidd had a hit and two runs scored; Burrel had a hit, an RBI and a run scored; Free had a hit and an RBI; Coker had a hit and a run scored; and Mallary Smith had a hit.
Southside High started off the tournament on Thursday (May 19) with a 1-1 split.
The Lady Panthers opened with a 7-2 win over Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa before losing to Chelsea, 6-3. That loss dropped Southside to the playback bracket.
Trailing 2-0 Against Hillcrest after the first inning, Southside tied the scored in the top of third when a sacrifice bunt by Hunt put runners on first and third. Free then doubled home Destinie Simpson (running for Yancey) and Coker.
In the fourth, Hollaway doubled and then scored on an error to make it a 3-1 advantage.
Hollaway’s two-run home run highlighted a four-run six inning, during which Coker bunted home Kidd. Coker later scored on an error.
In a complete-game effort, Yancey limited Hillcrest to four hits and two walks while striking out six. At the plate, Coker went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored; Hollaway went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored; Free went 2-for-4 with a run scored; and Kidd and Smith each had a hit and a run scored.
In the later game, Southside trailed 2-1 after one inning, then fell behind 4-1 after five. The Lady Panthers drew within 4-2 in the sixth but scored only once more in the bottom of the seventh.
Yancey took the loss in five innings, allowing six hits, four earned runs and two walks.
Coker went 2-for-3 with two runs scored; Yancey and Hunt each had two hits; Hollaway, Kidd and Becca Feazell each had a hit; and Ashcraft had an RBI and a run scored.