Moody bumps Panthers from playoffs
By Heath Clary
Special to the Anvil Herald
The Medina Valley Panther softball team played Corpus Christi
Moody last weekend in a three-game series, with the winner
advancing to the regional semifinals. After the Panthers won the
first game 3-2 in dramatic fashion, they could not close out the
series on Saturday, May 16, losing two frustrating games, 14-3 and
10-6, to bring their season to an end.
Pitcher KyLee DeCock gave up two runs in the first inning of
Game 1 on a walk, an error, a wild pitch, and a hit, but then she
shut down the Trojans for the rest of the game. She finished the
game with eight strikeouts, one walk, and two runs allowed,
neither of which was earned.
The Panthers cut the deficit in half in the fifth inning, and
they might have been able to score more if not for some
overaggressive base running. Karli Sewell led off the frame with a
stand up double to left, and then Melinda Parish hit a single and
made it to second on the throw. With runners on second and third
and no outs, Lauren Sotelo hit a sacrifice fly to left, allowing
courtesy runner Hailey Perez to score and Parish to move to third.
Then DeCock hit a pop up that was dropped by the first baseman.
DeCock made it safely to first, but Parish tried to score from
third and was thrown out for the second out of the inning.
But the Panthers made sure to pick up the slack in their final
at bat. The defense came through with a crucial 6-4-3 double play
to end the top of the seventh, giving them some momentum going
into the bottom of the inning.
Sewell flied out to right to start it, and then Parish doubled.
Sotelo came to the plate and, facing a 1-2 count, crushed an
inside pitch on a line over the center field fence for a walk-off
two-run home run.
While it was an incredible finish to a tightly contested game,
the Panthers didn’t have long to celebrate the victory, as they
had to leave early on Saturday to make it to Tuloso-Midway High
School for a noon start to Game 2 of the series.
Despite feeling comfortable at T-M—the Panthers played there
once in the first playoff series and twice in the second round—it
was the Trojans who dominated on Saturday.
Similar to what happened to the MV baseball team against Roma,
the third inning proved to be crucial. With the Panthers leading
2-0, DeCock had retired seven consecutive batters to start the
game, but then lost control of her pitches.
A one-out walk, three consecutive wild pitches, two more walks,
a double, and then a single resulted in five Moody runs, and the
Panthers never recovered.
The Orange and Black clawed back in the fifth when Parish drove
in Arie Ann Bell with an RBI single, but the Trojans responded
with three in the bottom of the fifth and six more in the sixth to
trigger the run rule and make a third game necessary to decide the
winner of the series.
Game 3 was a back-and-forth affair—there were five lead
changes—but a critical defensive mistake in the bottom of the
sixth doomed the Panthers.
With the bases loaded and two outs, a Moody batter grounded
softly back to the pitcher. DeCock’s momentum carried her toward
home plate, so she opted for the force at home instead of going
the standard route of throwing to first.
It was a little high, and a surprised Sewell was not able to
corral the throw. That allowed the go-ahead run to score, and then
three consecutive RBI walks increased the lead to 10-6.
The Panthers tried to come back in the seventh inning, but it
just wasn’t meant to be. They did a tremendous job all game long
of fouling pitches off with two strikes, working deep counts and
elevating the opposing pitcher’s pitch count, but it ultimately
wasn’t enough as the Panthers succumbed to defeat.
Sotelo proved to be one of the bright spots in the otherwise
disappointing series, reaching base in seven of her ten plate
appearances—including a home run and two doubles.
While they exited earlier than they hoped, Medina Valley
finished its season with a sparkling 28-4 record and a district
championship. Their potent offense featured eight regulars hitting
at least .338 and also 29 homers as a team.
The team will lose four seniors who are all major contributors
– Lopez, Parish, Sewell, and Sotelo – but the other five
starters will return and there are ample options still in the
program that will make the Panthers a legitimate playoff contender
once again in 2016.