By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
PINE GROVE – Pine Grove coach Brad Pounders knows the playoffs are about surviving, no matter how it looks.
So Saturday, when his Lady Panthers had one more hit (5) than errors (4), and still managed a 7-3 win over Ingomar to sweep the Class 1A second round series, Pounders was all smiles.
“Was that not the ugliest softball game?” said Pounders, who will guide the Lady Panthers to their first quarterfinal appearance in school history. “We just battled. It wasn’t pretty, but I told them, at this time of the year, just win and advance.”
Pine Grove pitcher Jesse Collins was the swan in an ugly duckling game as she picked up where she left off Friday when she stuck out six.
She fanned seven and allowed four hits – just one after the third inning.
After allowing three runs on three hits through the first three innings, Collins stuck out five over the last four.
“Once it got to be 5-3 she put up four zeros in a row,” added Pounders. “It was a team effort, but it all started with her.”
Scratching it out
The Lady Panthers didn’t light it up at the plate either. They scratched out five hits, two doubles by nine-hole hitter Laken Hill. Hill’s first double scored Chloe Bailey and started a four-run second inning to push Pine Grove ahead 5-1.
In the inning, Pine Grove had just two hits, but drew two walks off Ingomar stater Lauren Koon. They hit into four fielder’s choice plays, but late throws and a pair or errors by Ingomar (9-20) led to the final three runs. Ingomar finished the day with four errors.
“Early on, we din’t play good defense and we gave them five runs,” said Williams. “We settled down late, but if we have played the first half of the game like we did the second, we’d be playing Game 3.”
Hill belted a fifth-inning double and later scored on an RBI walk to Lacy Blakney. Almost half of the Lady Panthers’ runs came from the bottom portion of the lineup.
Ingomar got an RBI single from Courtney Thompson to score their first run in the second inning. They cut Pine Grove’s lead to 5-3 in the third on a RBI groundout by Mallory Adair and a run-scoring double by Koon.