Pangburn senior Hannah Snowden drilled a game-winning two-out single past first base and into right field, scoring senior Kayla Gray from third as the Lady Tigers capped a seven run seventh-inning comeback to shock Tuckerman 8-7 on Wednesday in front of a standing-room only crowd at Pangburn City Park.
The monumental victory keeps Pangburn (24-3, 11-2) in the thick of the 2-2A Conference title chase entering today's home game against Salem, which currently holds first place by one game over Tuckerman and Pangburn.
Pangburn Coach Scott Hoffman could not have been more pleased with his team, which fell behind 6-0 after two innings and trailed 7-1 entering the bottom of the seventh.
“We could have easily folded and that group over there [Tuckerman] has a great team. But, credit to my kids because they have grown up. They did not blink, they did not fold and they never wavered even though we made some mistakes early and got down big. We never flinched. We didn't back down,” added Hoffman.
The Lady Bulldogs committed five errors to aid Pangburn's dramatic comeback. “They made a couple of mistakes, but the difference in the ballgame was we made mistakes and bounced back and they made mistakes and let it snowball,” said Hoffman. “Now they are a great team. They will come back and will be ready to kick our butt next time we play them. But today, at least for one game, my kids were better because we never flinched.”
Tuckerman (14-3, 10-2) took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning and could have added more, but Pangburn right-handed pitcher Kayla Butcher managed to stop the bleeding, inducing a fly-out to Raven Matthews in right field.
The visiting Lady Bulldogs added two more runs in the second inning, including a broken bat RBI ground out by Allyson Barnes that brought home pitcher Sara Shipman for a 6-0 lead.
Hoffman decided to stick with Butcher rather than turning to hard throwing left-handed pitcher Kristen Kerby.
“It was hard to stay with Butcher but the thing I had to look at was is it a mechanical issue and can we fix it. The one thing she was having a problem with was she wasn't getting her drop ball to bite down. She was leaving it up and like a 12-6 curveball, you hang it and they bang it.
“Part of it wasn't her fault. We made errors in the outfield and she is a contact pitcher. Kristen Kerby is my power pitcher and she is going to go right at you and try to blow you away. Butcher is a contact pitcher. While she does get her share of strikeouts, she is always around the strike zone and she has good movement so you miss-hit the ball a lot. We've got to make plays when they miss-hit the ball,” added Hoffman.
Page 2 of 3 - Shipman, Tuckerman's right-handed pitcher, held the Lady Tigers without a hit until the fourth inning, when Gray smoked a single to left field. But Shipman would pitch out around Pangburn's first hit, eventually leaving Gray stranded at third.
Still trailing 6-0, Pangburn scratched across a run in the bottom of the fifth as Hannah Snowden slammed a double to the gap in right center and scored on an RBI sacrifice-fly off the bat of Butcher.
Tuckerman pushed its lead back to six at 7-1 in the top of the seventh as Barnes led off with a single and scored on a one-out RBI groundout by Hannah Dilday.
Down to its final three cracks, Kerby ignited the Lady Tigers' rally with a walk then Hannah Snowden pulled a single through the hole on left side. A throwing error on Snowden's single allowed both runners to move up, giving Pangburn runners at second and third.
Marcy Atkins reached on a throwing error as Kerby scored and Jeslin Moiser reached on another throwing error as Snowden scored and Atkins took third. After Moiser stole second, taking away the force out, Butcher sent a sharp ground ball to shortstop that turned into the Lady Bulldogs' fourth throwing error of the inning, while Atkins scored as Pangburn trimmed its deficit to 7-4.
Following a Matthews walk, Gray lifted a fly-ball to left field that got hung up in a strong, gusty wind, causing the ball to float back towards the infield and away from Tuckerman's left fielder, who failed to make the lunging grab as Moiser and Butcher scored to pull Pangburn within one at 7-6.
After Gray and Matthews pulled off a double steal, Autumn Franks drove home the tying run with an RBI groundout to Barnes, who made the throw to first base as Matthews alertly waited before speeding home to tie the score at 7-all.
Shipman retired Morgan Gallegly on a sharp grounder back to the circle, bringing Kerby to the batter's box with the game on the line. Kerby worked a full-count walk, setting up Snowden's clutch game-winning hit that scored Gray as the Lady Tigers celebrated a huge victory.
Pangburn, which has already set a school-record with 24 wins, takes tremendous pride in playing at home, where the current senior class holds an overall record of 43-5. The Lady Tigers are undefeated at home this season. “We take a lot of pride in playing on our home field,” said Hoffman. “We are just not going to back down from anybody. I am really, really proud of my kids. They are not going to give up.”
The Lady Tigers have split two games with Salem entering today's showdown at Pangburn City Park.
Pangburn beat the Lady Greyhounds in the Batesville Tournament, but lost at Salem in league play.
Page 3 of 3 - “My seniors have worked four years just to have this opportunity to get to play in a game of this magnitude,” said Hoffman. “I feel like it's a dead heat. The first time we played them we hit the ball well and they did not and we won 8-2. Up at Salem, nothing went our way and we made a lot of mistakes. I think you could flip a coin on this last [regular season] game.”
Opening pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.