Lady Panthers repeat as sectional champions
GRANVILLE — Two in a row is twice as nice for the Putnam County Lady Panthers as they beat the Serena Lady Huskers 2-0 for the sectional championship Saturday.
With theiri second consecutive sectional crown, the Lady Panthers (28-7) advanced to Monday’s supersectional in DeKalb to face Amboy.
In a pitchers’ duel, the Panthers’ senior starter Shelby Yepsen faced off against the Huskers’ Jacklyn Thompson. While hits and walks were limited in the first seven innings of the game, strikeouts were not.
Thompson struck out 12 Panthers batters and Yepsen struck out 10 Husker batters. Yepsen threw a one hitter along with allowing only three balls out of the infield during the game with one walk and one hit batsperson. Thompson scattered six hits over the eight innings with the same one walk and one hit batsperson.
The Lady Panthers and Huskers each had some defensive problems with the Panthers making an error in the fifth and sixth inning while the Huskers made an error in the seventh and eighth innings.
While the Lady Panthers (as the guests for the game) had runners on during the second, third, fourth and seventh innings, the eighth was the key in the contest. Junior Allison Voss, who had previously hit a single in the game, hit a hard grounder to third base and the throw was missed by the Huskers first baseman.
Junior Ciera Keller advanced Voss to second with a sacrifice bunt. Then senior Stephanie Wilson hit a surprise bunt single which advanced Voss to third and bought senior Nikki Mertel to the plate. During Mertel’s at bat, Wilson attempted to steal second, fell, but got up and completed the steal which threw the Huskers Thompson off her game. Thompson threw a passed ball by the catcher, which allowed Voss to score from third base with the first run of the game. Wilson then took third on the play.
Mertel then slammed a triple down the right field line, which scored Wilson, making the score 2-0 in the Lady Panthers’ favor.
Yepsen took the Huskers out of the game in the bottom of the eighth with a fly out, strikeout and then a popup in foul territory, caught by senior Carly Gonet to seal the win and punch the Panthers’ ticket to Monday’s supersectionals in DeKalb vs. Amboy,
“I didn’t care how we scored, I just wanted to win,” Yepsen said. “We got that error (in the eighth inning) and we knew we had to score somehow. We didn’t care how.”
Gonet was also pleased with the win.
“I was hoping I would catch it (the last out of the game). It felt good,” she said. “It was a really tough game, probably the toughest one all year. We stuck with it, they stuck with it, and it just ended in our favor.”
Lady Panther coach Chris Walker was happy with his team’s tenacity.
“The key was not giving up,” he said. “It is really what everything boils down to. Annie Miller had a couple hits, we had a couple of good bunts, but we didn’t take advantage of some opportunities we had and that was because of Jacklyn Thompson. She was throwing bullets. We made our adjustment in the box, and we had a couple of key hits. Obviously Nikki’s (Mertel) hit and Stephanie’s (Wilson) surprise bunt there and Monica’s surprise bunt worked. They had tried to take that away all game. All the credit goes to our girls.”