Once Pangburn shook the cobwebs from a long layoff, the Lady Tigers took care of business, breaking out the broom and sweeping Cotter's Lady Warriors 7-4 and 14-2 on Friday in a 2-2A Conference doubleheader at Pangburn City Park.
“We really haven't got to play very much since Spring Break,” said Pangburn Coach Scott Hoffman. “It's hurting us right now. We are sluggish and a little bit rusty, but I would rather have two ugly wins than a loss any day. It took us a while to get going and we finally broke through in the first game. In the second game we looked a little more like us. I was proud of that.”
After wrapping up Friday's doubleheader around 8 p.m., the Lady Tigers (16-2, 6-1) boarded a bus only seven hours later (5 a.m.) to head west for Magazine, where they would compete in a tournament. “The timing is perfect,” said Hoffman. “It is going to help us get back into a rhythm before we get back into our big conference games. This was a game tonight we knew we should win.
“We are fighting for a conference championship. That's what we are after, so to see some good teams this weekend is going to help us get back into conference play and hopefully win a title,” added Hoffman.
Pangburn fell behind 1-0 in Game 1 of Friday's doubleheader as Cotter's Gracie Lance was hit-by a-pitch and eventually scored on a two-out, bases-loaded walk.
Lady Tiger left-handed pitcher Kristen Kerby got out of the bases-loaded jam without further harm, inducing a groundout to Hannah Snowden at shortstop.
Pangburn countered with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the first, starting when Raven Matthews worked a one-out walk and took second on a wild pitch.
Following approximately 10 foul balls, mostly crushed foul down the third base side, Pangburn senior slugger Kayla Gray roped a two-run home run that hooked inside the left field foul pole, scoring Matthews as the Lady Tigers took a 2-1 lead.
Morgan Gallegly reignited the inning with a two-out infield single before Kerby nailed an RBI double to the alley in left center, plating Gallegly and pushing Pangburn's lead to 3-1.
Kerby, who finished with eight strikeouts, found her groove in the second inning as she retired the side in order. Kerby pitched around a one-out single in both the third and fourth frames, while helping her own cause by beating out an infield single, which scored Gray, who led off the third with a double down the left field line.
With Pangburn leading 4-1, Cotter suddenly closed its deficit to one in the top of the fifth when Shawna Martin launched a two-run home run over the fence in right center, scoring Lance, who drew a one-out walk.
Page 2 of 3 - Kerby retaliated by retiring eight of the Lady Warriors' final nine batters, while Pangburn added three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth behind RBIs from Addison Snowden and Matthews.
Pangburn 14, Cotter 2
After a tightly contested Game 1, Pangburn left little doubt in the nightcap, pounding out 12 hits in a six-inning triumph over the Lady Warriors, who fell to 1-8 overall and 0-6 in 2-2A Conference play.
Playing as the visiting team, the Lady Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as Kayla Butcher and Matthews each walked before Gray lofted a single over shortstop.
Gallegly then drove home Butcher with an RBI, sacrifice-fly to center field.
Cotter pitcher Kelsey Willingham escaped further damage with a strikeout and line-out, stranding two runners in scoring position.
Butcher, Pangburn's right-handed Game 2 pitcher, retired the Lady Warriors in order in the bottom of the first, and the Lady Tigers added two runs on one hit in the top of the second, starting when Kerby drew a walk.
Hannah Snowden also walked and Marcy Atkins was hit-by-a-pitch, loading the bases for Butcher, who delivered an RBI single on a well-placed soft liner to the right side of the infield, scoring Kerby.
After Matthews' line drive turned into a double play, Gray sent a grounder to third base that turned into an error, allowing Hannah Snowden to score as Pangburn pushed its lead to 3-0.
Butcher, who registered 10 strikeouts, rung up two in the bottom of the second while pitching around a hit batter and error.
The Lady Tigers tacked on two runs on five hits in the top of the third and busted the game wide open in the fifth, plating five runs despite only two hits. Butcher, who reached base on 5-of-5 plate appearances in the second game while collecting two base hits, drove home a run and later scored on an error.
Meanwhile, Gray hammered an RBI double to deep left field, scoring Addison Snowden, who reached by error. Gallegly then reached on an error that scored two more as Pangburn's lead grew to 10-0 before Cotter got out of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Warriors avoided the 10-run rule when Martin laced a two-out, 2 RBI double to deep center field, but Pangburn responded in the top of the sixth, when the Lady Tigers scored four runs, including a 2 RBI single from Matthews and an RBI single from Gallegly, who tomahawked a high pitch into center field.
Leading 14-2 entering the bottom of the sixth, Butcher retired Cotter in order as the Lady Tigers claimed a sweep, keeping their league title hopes intact.
Gray, who finished the doubleheader with four hits including a home run, double and four RBI, recently decided to play college softball at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville.
Page 3 of 3 - “She hits it on the nose a lot,” emphasized Hoffman. “She committed yesterday (Thursday) to play at the University of the Ozarks. I am very proud of Kayla. She has been solid every year. Her slugging percentage right now is over 1.000, so we know if we can get runners on in front of her we have a good chance of scoring some runs. After tonight she has 27 RBI for the year,” added Hoffman.
Kerby also had a solid night, reaching base in all seven plate appearances while recording two singles, a double, two RBI and four runs – all in the second game.
Butcher reached base safely in all five of her at-bats in Friday's nightcap, racking up a single, double, two RBI and three runs scored.