Lady Panthers fall in regional quarterfinals

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

May 11, 2007 - FRUITVALE - Facing a tough Martins Mill softball team, the North Hopkins Lady Panthers bowed out of the playoffs in the regional quarterfinals with a 6-2 loss Thursday night.

"I think Martins Mill was the better team tonight because they were able to hit the ball well, pitched well and battled us well," said NHHS coach Jim Westbrook. "I told them for four years in a row the team that beats me has gone to state and they better keep that going."

The Lady Panthers fell behind 2-0 after the first inning as Lauren Webster smacked a triple to left field on a 2-2 pitch, Ashley Tarrant then walked and with one out Alyssa Smith hit an RBI-groundout to score Webster. Courtesy runner Payton Coleman then scored on a passed ball for the 2-0 lead.

North Hopkins was able to cut into the deficit in the top of the third inning as KayLee Cotten reached on a fielding error by the first baseman and with two outs scored on a long fly-ball error by the left fielder for a 2-1 deficit.

But the Lady Hornets countered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning as Webster led off with her second extra-base hit as she rapped a double. With one out, Butler reached on a error, followed by an RBI-single by Smith, Brittney Perkins laid down a sacrifice bunt scoring Butler.

In the top of the fifth inning, NH had a chance to make a big inning with the bases loaded and no outs, but only scored one run on a groundout by Chastin Smiddy scoring Ashlie Newman for a 4-2 deficit.

"When you have the bases loaded and no outs, you should be able to get more than one run and we were not able to do that tonight," the coach said.

Martins Mill rounded out the scoring in the bottom of the fifth inning as Tarrant worked out a walk, followed by a single to Butler and a double steal to put them on second and third with one out.

Tarrant then scored on a passed ball and Butler scored on an error by the second baseman during Smith's at-bat for the 6-2 finale.

"We knew they were going to be tough and I hate losing KayLee and she has been wonderful," Westbrook said. "They were the better team tonight and you have got to give them credit for that."

Cotten went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored in her final game. She also threw a complete-game, striking out eight and allowing five hits and three walks.

Westbrook said with the team reaching the regional quarterfinals, the team did very well this season.

"We have overachieved all year and after graduating five seniors last year everybody was licking their lips to get after us," he said. "We are going to be back next year hungrier and we are going to be all right and have a future to build on."

Notes: Suiting up for their final game was Cotten and Argenbright. ... The Lady Mustangs committed four errors, while North Hopkins had two errors

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