Panthers fall 1-0 to Bay State Thunder

CONNECTING — Panther catcher Allison Morse connects on a pitch during weekend softball at the Whitten Memorial Tournament in South Portland. (Photo by Colleen Simpson)

CONNECTING — Panther catcher Allison Morse connects on a pitch during weekend softball at the Whitten Memorial Tournament in South Portland. (Photo by Colleen Simpson)

SOUTH PORTLAND — The Maine Panthers U-16 girls’ softball team competed this past weekend in the annual Whitten Memorial Tournament in South Portland.

The Panthers entered Sunday’s final round as the fourth seed, but were eliminated in a highly competitive 1-0 game by the Bay State (Mass.) Thunder.

Here’s how the Panthers (which consists of players from Lake Region, Fryeburg Academy, Poland and Oxford Hills) fared:

Panthers 3, Diamond Gems (NH) 3: Just two weeks ago, the Panthers were whipped by the Gems in a tourney in Nashua, N.H. 12-0 by the hosts.

Saturday was a completely different story.

Panther pitcher Kolby Wood, who was away in the previous meeting, mesmerized Gem hitters, allowing just two hits while striking out 8 in six innings of work.

The Panthers struck first as Casey Simpson singled, stole second, moved up to third on a passed ball. With one out, Elle Burbank ripped a line drive on a 1-2 pitch to right field. The Gems outfielder made a running initial catch, but dropped the ball. Simpson scored.

The Gems tied the game in the third as the result of a single and an outfield error.

The Panthers reclaimed the lead in the fourth as Kristen Chipman walked and scored on a deep drive to the left-center gap for a RBI double by Kylie Martin.

Chipman opened the sixth with a single off a 1-2 fastball, moved up to second on a passed ball and scored on a Martin RBI single.

Wood appeared on her way to victory by inducing an infield out and an apparent fly ball out to left, but the ball was dropped giving the Gems all they would need to rally to tie the game. A single, walk and an error saved the Gems. The game was called due to the 1 hour 30 minute time limit.

For the Panthers, Simpson was 2-for-4, and Martin 2-for-3.

Panthers 1, Noreasters (NH) 1: Kristen Chipman and Casey Heath each had RBI triples to spark a five-hit attack as the Panthers downed the Noreasters.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the second as Chipman reached on an error and Emily Whittemore ripped a drive just inside the third base bag for a run-scoring double.

After the Noreasters tied the game in the second, the Panthers went up 2-1 on a Heath walk, Burbank single and a fielder’s choice by Martin.

After threatening in the fourth, the Panthers tacked on two runs in the fifth as Martin reached on an error and Chipman tripled to deep right-center. Chipman scored on a ground ball out to the right side by Allison Morse.

Brittany Perreault led off the Panther sixth with a single to left, and later scored on Heath’s triple.

Panther starter Kylie Martin scattered five hits, while striking out seven and allowing no walks. She logged a strike out in every inning other than the first.

Comets (NH) 9, Panthers 8: The usually reliable Panther defense was off kilter in the final game on Saturday, committing five costly errors against the Comets.

Despite the fielding lapses, the Panthers showed their resiliency, battling back over the final three innings to make it a close game.

Down 5-0, the Panthers scored a pair of runs in the fourth on singles by Elle Burbank, Kylie Martin, Allison Morse, Kolby Wood and Ashley Clark.

After the Comets cashed in on two errors to make it 7-2, the Panthers rallied for four runs in the fifth on hits by Burbank, double by Martin and single by Morse.

The Comets tacked on two runs in the sixth to go up 9-6, but the Panthers made it interesting in their last at bat as Brittany Perreault and Casey Simpson each singled, and Burbank belted a double to make it 9-8. With Burbank at third, the Panthers had two chances to push across the equalizer, but managed two infield fly ball outs to end the game.

Thunder (Mass.) 1, Panthers 0: Sunday’s elimination round saw a classic in the 8 a.m. game between the Thunder and Panthers.

The hard-hitting Thunder threatened to score with two out in the first inning on back-to-back singles, but Panther starter Kolby Wood escaped trouble by forcing an infield fly ball out.

Wood turned in another sterling effort, mixing her pitches and location throughout the contest, scattering six hits while striking out five.

The Thunder plated the game’s only run in the third as the Number 9 hitter bounced a drive up the middle, which Panther shortstop Casey Heath snagged, she spinned and fired a crisp throw to first only to be late by a step.

Two sacrifice bunts moved the runner to third, setting the table for the Thunder’s #3 hitter who delivered a bullet up the middle to score the run.

The Panthers left runners (Casey Heath on an error and Kristen Chipman single) in scoring position in the first and fourth innings.

Emily Whittemore made a strong bid for an extra base hit in the fifth when she rocketed a drive to right-center, but the Thunder outfielder made a nifty over-the-shoulder catch and held on when she tumbled to the ground.

Bay State threatened to add an insurance run in the fifth, but a bunt attempt was popped up in front of home plate. Panther catcher Allison Morse made an outstanding catch and then fired a strike to third baseman Kristen Chipman, who doubled up the runner there.

Wood worked out of trouble in the sixth, getting a line drive out to center and a strike out to leave a Thunder runner at second.

In the seventh, Burbank turned in a highlight stab of a ground ball at second. Ranging to her left, she timed the hard hit ball perfectly, reaching out, catching it and throwing the runner out at first.

The Panthers went in order to end the game. The Panthers had just three singles by Whittemore, Simpson and Chipman.

Up next: The Panthers close out their summer season this weekend at the Turn 2 Tournament in Bow, N.H.

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