Hot bats, huge game by Hall propel Pantherettes past Paris in crosstown contest
In the first of two crosstown showdown district softball games, the No. 2 North Lamar Pantherettes came out of the gates with a purpose in their third consecutive big win. After some struggles earlier in the month, the Pantherettes handled Brownsboro and Pleasant Grove before taking down the Paris Lady Wildcats 16-0 in 5 innings on Tuesday night at Pantherette Field.
Before their most recent stretch of success, the Pantherettes (19-2-1, 2-0) struggled against Class 3A foes as they lost 9-0 to Rains and tied Edgewood 0-0 in tournament action. The Pantherettes regrouped, though, and moved forward nicely.
“I think going out with more energy was important because I feel like in the games we were down, we didn’t have as much energy as a team,” North Lamar senior Karsyn Iltis said. “We all talked it out, figured out what was going wrong, and we’ve been able to pick it up from there — the energy has been contagious. We want to continue to be a fearless and confident team.”
North Lamar head softball coach Ashley Endsley was pleased with how Iltis and the rest of her team leaders have performed in all areas this season, and she was specifically pleased with the synergy between her pitcher Jaycie Hall and the defense.
“She came out and she was ready to go with her pitching, and her defense was behind her, too,” Endsley said. “We had some good hits, and we made some good plays on defense that we have been working on a lot.”
Hall’s stuff on the mound was potent from the opening pitch, but the offense was equally impressive with 13 total hits and 16 runs.
“Offensively, we came out ready to swing and I told them to put hard hits on the middle of the ball, and we did that,” Endsley said. “We just need to stay on track, get those important reps in, and take things day by day, practice by practice.”
Lady ’Cats senior Jaidyn Clark was pitching well for Paris early on as she limited the mighty Pantherette offense to only two runs in the first inning. Throughout the contest, even when North Lamar saw its lead continue to swell, the Lady ’Cats never gave up. The Lady ’Cat players made several solid defensive plays in foul territory and in the field, which is an encouraging sign for the young, talented, and rebuilding softball program.
“We went into this game knowing what was coming, and we tip our hats to them. These girls have built a culture and program, which started years ago,” Lady ’Cats head softball coach Brandi Batchelor said. “They’re continuing their culture and we are building right now at the beginning stages…We never hung our heads, we never quit, we made some good plays and made good contact, and we accomplished a lot of our individual goals. I told my girls that we are young and building, but that everything is going to be alright. I told them we need to keep fighting because that could be us on top next year.”
Hall did as much damage at the plate as she did on the mound, and her second-inning grand slam stretched the home team’s advantage to 6-0. Two innings later, North Lamar hung 10 runs on the scoreboard as the offense put its foot on the gas to close the game out in five run-rule-shortened innings.
Hall led North Lamar on the mound and with her bat. She finished 3-for-6 from the plate with 3 runs scored and 6 RBI, which was highlighted by her grand slam in the bottom of the second. On the bump, she threw all 5 innings with only 63 pitches and allowed just one hit against 11 strikeouts.
Along with Hall, three other Pantherettes recorded multiple hits in the game. Senior infielder Macy Richardson went 2-for-4 with 3 runs scored and 1 RBI while fellow senior McKenzie Dickson finished 2-for-3 with one run scored and 2 RBI. Claire Stewart recorded two singles and scored 2 runs. Senior centerfielder Noel Rainey blasted a solo homer in the first inning and crossed home plate on another occasion while Itis hammered an RBI double that drove in two and scored once herself.
Lady ’Cats shortstop Chloe Gilmore singled in the top of the second inning to represent the team’s lone hit against Hall. Clark and freshman Jordan Andrade split duties on the mound for Paris as both pitchers combined for 84 pitches and tossed two innings apiece. Clark surrendered three hits and 5 earned runs against 2 strikeouts while Andrade allowed 7 hits, 3 earned runs, and one walk.
Going forward, Batchelor was pleased to see the girls focusing less on the scoreboard and more on both the task and respective gameplan at hand.
The Pantherettes look to win again at 6 p.m. Friday at Gilmer while the Lady ’Cats aim to bounce back at 6 p.m. Friday at home against Liberty-Eylau. For more sports and outdoor coverage, click here.