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Panthers win scrap with Lions
It wasn't the prettiest game in the world, but the Maxwell High softball team controlled Redding Christian from start to finish and won the Five-Star League contest 8-5 on Wednesday in Maxwell.
Neither team fielded the ball particularly well, with the Panthers making six errors and the Lions committing nine, but Maxwell's aggressive base-running put runners in scoring position and the bats came through with runners on base.
Jessie Otterson led a 12-hit attack with three singles and swiped one of the Panthers' seven stolen bases. Four of the Panthers' eight runs came after a stolen base moved the runner into scoring position.
"Our speed does get to a lot of teams because usually their catcher can't throw hard and our speed can beat (the throw) there," Otterson said.
Maxwell took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Jenna Powell smoked a run-scoring single up the middle and Otterson led off the second inning with a single and stole second base before Brittney Haywood drove her in with a single. Haywood stole second base and came around to score when the throw to second base went into the outfield, giving Maxwell a 3-1 lead.
Shelen Boyes manufactured a run in the third inning when she laid down a drag bunt single, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Allison Costa.
The Panthers only two seniors, catcher Andi Robledo and first baseman Alexz Miller, got a big inning going in the bottom of the fourth. Robledo led off with a single and stole second base before Miller hit a single. Robledo scored on an RBI groundout by Ashley Azevedo and Miller scored on a grounder near second base by Powell, which was kicked around for an error.
Otterson drove in Azevedo with a single and rounded first base far enough to draw the attention away from Powell at third base, who jetted home, giving Maxwell an 8-2 lead.
The offense caused plenty of mayhem in the infield and Allison Costa pitched around several tricky situations to make the Panthers' eight runs hold up.
Redding Christian pitcher Dylan Hermann scored the Lions' first run after hitting a double in the top of the second inning and got a small rally started in the fourth.
Hermann singled with one out and the Lions followed with two more singles before Costa settled down with a strikeout and nearly got out of the inning before an error allowed Hermann to score. Unfazed, Costa closed the door by inducing a force-out at home.
The Lions (3-7, 3-4 Five Star) tacked on another run in the sixth when the Maxwell defense committed three errors. An error, walk and two singles led to two runs in the seventh inning but Costa ended the game by getting a Lions hitter to groundout to Azevedo at second base.
Costa struck out seven in seven innings and walked one. The Lions connected for seven hits, three by Hermann, but three of their five runs were unearned.
Hermann was a worthy adversary on the pitching rubber, striking out 11 and walking none but was tagged with the loss.
Robledo and Miller both went 2 for 4 with a run scored in their final regular-season home game.
"I love this sport and I love being out here, it relieves my stress and I love being out in the field," Robledo said.
Maxwell (16-1, 8-0 Five Star) finished the regular season on Friday with a doubleheader against host Hayfork. Heading into the games Friday, Maxwell held the top spot in the Division VI playoff points standings.
The key to the Panthers' success this year isn't just that they don't have any glaring weaknesses, it's the desire to repeat as section champions, Robledo said.
"The first day we start practice our goal is to go to the section championship game and beat those teams that, yeah, they may be better than us, but we bring it just as well as anyone else does and we want it more than anyone else," she said.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.