Panthers end Warriors’ season

prep_icon_greenBy Brandon Speck

Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – Pontotoc had to have a win to make the Class 4A playoffs. Amory had seven full innings to play.

The Lady Panthers, already locked in the top spot thanks to an loss by Itawamba AHS earlier Tuesday night, beat Pontotoc 4-3 with a seventh-inning rally. It ended the year and the careers for Pontotoc seniors Olivia Owen, Erin Claire Stegall and Kayla Russell.

“In the fifth inning, I knew that Itawamba had already lost, but I didn’t tell a soul,” said Amory coach Amir Hunt. “I want them to continue to play like they’ve played all year long … we don’t have time to take any steps back.”

Down a run in the top of the seventh, Amory (16-9, 8-2) pinch hitter Sydney Griffith singled and leadoff hitter Bailey Oswalt reached on a well-placed bunt. Erin Griffith pushed a hard bunt through four Pontotoc infielders to tie the game. With one down, Aynslee Willis popped to right, but Rayven Stegall couldn’t get under the ball and two scored for a 4-2 lead. That was one of three Pontotoc errors.

Amory won a division slow pitch title, too.

“That’s what we were all really looking forward to,” said Bailey Boyd, one of three seniors, along with Oswalt and Booth. “High expectations for us.”

Owen went out with a blaze, her first homer of the year in the bottom of the seventh and eighth-grade pitcher Mary Kate Butler (7-7) missed a homer to left by a foot. Winning pitcher Josie Booth (16-8) snagged a liner of the bat of Russell to end it.

Pontotoc (9-8) took a 2-1 lead in the fifth. Owen doubled with one out and scored on a sac fly by Erin Claire Stegall.

“Heartbreaking,” said Pontotoc coach Jessic Seger. “We hit the ball, put things in play, just had those few errors that allowed those unearned runs. That last hit of Kayla Russell’s, I told her I’d go out that way again.”

brandon.speck@journalinc.com