Panthers rally in bottom of seventh in two straight games against Allen


Sports editor

Due to two-straight seventh inning rallies, the Neosho County Community College softball team will advance to the National Junior College Athletic Association Region VI Div. II District D Tournament at Hummer Park in Topeka on Saturday.

In the best-of-three first round Region VI series, the Panthers on Saturday fell in the first game 3-0, won the second game 10-9 and beat the Red Devils in the third game 6-5 on Sunday.

Facing deficits in both game two and game three, Neosho drove home runners in the bottom of the seventh for two straight walk off wins.

Down 9-8 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in game two, Tiara Ewy drove in a two RBI single that scored Becki Hendrickson and Jozie Garner for the walk off win. The Panthers overcame a 9-4 Allen advantage after the top of the fifth with two runs in each of the bottom of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

In game three, Neosho faced a 5-3 deficit in the bottom of the seventh. The Panthers loaded the bases with no outs and got the first run when the Red Devils’ catcher missed stepping on home plate for the force out. Anna Crawford scored from third on the play. 

That set the table for Hendrickson. The sophomore knocked in a double to score Taylor Pence and Amanda Rodriguez for another Panther walk off win.

“I prayed,” Hendrickson said. “I said ‘Dear Jesus, Please let me hit a hard hit ball and score two runs in.’ I thanked Him after.”

As the ball went into the outfield, Hendrickson became elated. 

“I was so excited,” Hendrickson said. “I knew that they were going to go in, because we had two fast runners on second and third.”

The late game heroics in game two and three were a testament to the Panthers will to get to the next round of the NJCAA Region VI Div. II District D playoffs.

“They wanted it,” Neosho Head Softball Coach Kim Alexander said. “They like to keep it interesting I guess. They fight.”

The last time the Panthers advanced past the first round was 2010. This is the first first round win with Alexander as head coach. The Panthers will face No. 3 seed Murray State at 10 a.m. Saturday at the South Field of Hummer Sports Park in Topeka. The Region VI Tournament is a double elimination tournament.

Murray State beat North Arkansas College 15-2 and 12-1 in Harrisburg, Ark., to advance to Topeka.

In game three, Lexie Heiniger picked up the win. She pitched four innings, allowed one run and walked one. Meaghan Thompson started the game and pitched two innings. She struck out one and walked one.   

Taylor Bolden was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Hendrickson was 2-for-3 with and RBI. 

In game two, Heiniger pitched a complete game. She allowed nine runs on 14 hits, three walks and struck out one.

Ewy was 1-for-3 with three RBIs. Crawford had a home run, batting 2-for-3. She drove in three runs and scored a run.

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