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Defense Lifts Panthers, Dooms Miners

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:57:34 CDT

The Purple Panthers softball team went into Gillespie Tuesday afternoon and escaped with a 4-2 win, thanks in large part to timely hitting and defensive miscues by the Miners. Tessa Beckham was the winning pitcher for Litchfield as she pitched a complete game allowing two runs on seven hits while tallying five strikeouts and three walks. Beckham’s counterpart, Addison Bryant, may have pitched even better despite getting the loss. Bryant also pitched a complete game and allowed four runs, three earned, on three hits while striking out fourteen and walking two.

The Panthers got their first runner aboard in the form of a leadoff infield-single off the bat of Lexi Law. After allowing the leadoff single, Bryant retired each Panther hitter until Law came to bat again in the top of the third inning. On a 1-2 pitch, Law hit a ground ball that went through the legs of Gillespie shortstop, Abby Munos. Law’s speed allowed her to reach second base on the play. The next batter was Riley Scharf, who batted with a runner on second base and two outs. Scharf hit what should have been a routine fly ball to right-center field, but Miner centerfielder Ellen Gray overran the ball and dropped it. The error allowed Law to score easily from second base and give Litchfield a 1-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Tessa Beckham had a shutout heading into the third inning when she faced her first real trouble of the game. After striking out Bette Hammann to lead off the bottom of the inning, Abby Munos and Ellen Gray reached on back-to-back singles. Molly Gray advanced both runners into scoring position with a successful sacrifice bunt; but with two outs and runners on second and third, Beckham retired the Miners by getting Addison Bryant to ground out to third.

The Panthers increased their lead in the top of the fifth when Addison Bryant walked two batters ahead of Riley Scharf. Scharf lined a ball into left field that drifted away from the glove of leftfielder Kylie Dannis. Both runners scored and Scharf slid into third with a triple. Dannis may have had a shot at making the catch, but the route of the ball combined with the sun shining directly into the eyes of the leftfielder allowed the ball to drop. Two pitches later, Tessa Steffens lined an RBI-double into the gap in right-center to finish the scoring for the Panthers.

With some added run support, Tessa Beckham took the mound in the bottom of the fifth inning. Bette Hammann reached on a leadoff single and stole second base while Abby Munos was hitting. Munos struck out on three pitches, but Ellen Gray kept the rally going as she drove in Hammann with a one-out double. After Molly Gray advanced her twin sister to third with a groundout to second, Addison Bryant helped her own cause with an RBI single. The Litchfield lead had been cut in half just as soon as it had been extended. Beckham halted the rally by getting Beth Fields to fly out to left field.

The Panther bats were silenced thanks to the stellar finish by Addison Bryant as she struck out six of the final seven hitters, including the last five consecutively.

The Miners put a one-out runner on in the bottom of the sixth, but she was erased thanks to a double play turned by Tessa Steffens. Ellen Gray reached on a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but was unable to score when Beckham retired Molly Gray on a groundout to short.

Despite outhitting the Panthers, Gillespie fell short of winning due in large part to a couple of errors and an unfortunate sun-ball on the RBI-triple by Riley Scharf. While defense hindered the Miners, it helped Litchfield escape a few potential rallies throughout the ballgame. The Panthers turned a double play in the bottom of the fourth, and again in the bottom of the sixth.

Offensively for the Panthers, Lexi Law finished 1 for 3 with a hit, a walk, and two runs. Riley Scharf and Tessa Steffens also contributed a hit each; a triple and a double respectively. Scharf finished with two RBI’s while Steffens added one. Megan Skinner also scored a run for Litchfield. For the Miners, Ellen Gray led the way with three hits in four at-bats adding a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Addison Bryant also contributed a hit, going 1 for 3 with an RBI. Ally Bires, Bette Hammann, and Abby Munos each finished with a single for Gillespie. Hammann scored the only other run for the Miners.

The loss dropped the Gillespie record to 7-6, while Litchfield improved to 13-3 overall. This was a non-conference game for each team. Thanks for reading!

-David Jenkins


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