The Lady Panther middle school softball program was non-existent just three short years ago. There wasn’t enough interest in the sport to field a team. Athletic Director Calvin Head and Coach Ryan Davenport decided to allow 4th and 5th graders to tryout in order to get a much needed middle school softball program going.
In their first year, the Lady Panthers were very young and inexperienced but managed to win one varsity game and saw much improvement throughout the year. The following year, the Lady Panthers improved their varsity win total from 1 to 7 as their players and team continued to grow. Still young but with much more experience, the Lady Panthers entered the 2016 with higher expectations. Still starting five total 5th and 6th graders, the panthers have gone above most people’s expectations for this season. The Russellville Lady Panthers are in a very tough district with Logan County, Franklin Simpson, and Todd County. Russellville had never beat Franklin or Logan County in their middle school program history.
With one regular season game remaining and the state tournament, the Panthers have already accomplished much more than anyone anticipated. The Lady Panthers finished the district regular season with a 4-2 record, with two wins over Todd County and a win against Logan County, and Franklin Simpson. The Panthers have earned 11 varsity wins on the season.
Monday night The Lady Panthers traveled to Todd County High School with hopes of bringing home their schools first ever middle school district championship. In the first round of the district tournament the Lady Panthers were matched up against a very good and experienced Franklin Simpson team. The Lady Panthers had beaten the Wildcats just 5 days prior 11-7. On the mound for the Panthers was 7th grader Addie Mosier. Mosier missed half the season with a broken thumb but came back stronger than ever. After just picking up the win against Franklin the week before, Mosier went to work again, allowing no runs the first 4 innings of the ball game and earning the victory.
The Panther offense was led by 6th grader Jaylah Kees, 6th Grader Amiya Collier, 7th grader Lilly Newman, and 8th grader Chole Whitescarver. The Panther’s scored two runs in the top of the 1st inning. Newman singled to left center and Whitescarver doubled to center field, missing the fence by feet to score Newman. Newman’s run would give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Kees then drove in Whitescarver with a double of her own. The Panthers would score 3 more in the 3rd with Collier, Newman, and Brinley Mason scoring runs giving the Panthers a 5-0 advantage. The Panthers would not score again but 5 runs was enough for their stingy defense that played great throughout the game. Center fielder Lilly Newman recorded 5 outs in center field and the infield had 10 putouts with only 1 error. With no Wildcats striking out, the Panther defense was put to test but passed with flying colors.
In the bottom of the 5th inning the Wildcats stormed back and scored 4 runs. With two outs and and a runner on 2nd, A’miyah Collier was called in to relieve Mosier. On a 0-2 pitch, Collier got the Lady Wildcat batter to pop out to catcher Chloe Whitescarver to end the game. The Panthers advanced to the championship game were the Logan County Cougars awaited.
Runs: Newman (2), Collier, Whitescarver, Mason
Hits: Kees (3) Colier (2), Newman (2), Whitescarver
Winning Pitcher: Addie Mosier
Save: A’miyah Collier
The Panthers started the championship game right where they left off, jumping in front of the Lady Cougars 2-0 in the first inning. Collier and Newman scored off of a double by Whitescarver. However those would be the only runs the Panthers would score for the game. The Lady Cougars scored 7 in the first inning and never looked back to beat the Lady Panthers 11-2.
Logan County 11
Runs: Collier, Newman
Hits: Collier (3), Newman, Whitescarver, Mason, Kees
Although the Lady Panthers came up short of their goal they proved many wrong and made many become believers. The panthers in three short years have gone from being everyone’s for sure win, to a scary opponent for all. These girls have worked so hard on the field during and off season. All their work has paid off and their school, families, and coaches are very proud of them. The Lady Panthers will host Trigg County Thursday night then will play in the State tournament Friday at 7:45 at Buchanan Park in Bowling Green.