Lady Panthers bash Columbia, 15-0

Published 8:32 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2017

PINETOWN — The runs have come in bunches for Northside early in the season. After scoring a dozen at South Creek in Tuesday’s season opener, the Lady Panthers turned around to plate 15 against Columbia on Wednesday.

Northside’s bats took no time to get going in just their second outing of the season. The Lady Panthers nearly made it through the batting order before getting an out. Rylie Newman, Whitney Cromwell and Tiffany Oliver tested Columbia early on with their aggressive base running. After reaching, each stole second base on the next pitch.

“One of the first things we’ll do is we’ll use speed to get a picture of what an opponent has,” coach Gil Robbins said. “When we see that opportunity, we’ll exploit it. When it’s tight, maybe we’ll back off on it some. We’ll test it early, generally. At least, that’s my philosophy. … Right now, it’s working.”

Northside scored six times in the opening frame. Two of the runs came across on Rachel Lang’s single through the left side. Cromwell, Brooklyn Hudnell and Savannah Slade all pushed Lady Panthers across, too.

Rebekah Williams throws a pitch to a Columbia batter. Williams did well to stifle the visitors’ offense.

Rebekah Williams throws a pitch to a Columbia batter. Williams did well to stifle the visitors’ offense.

Pitcher Rebekah Williams stymied Columbia’s offense from the onset. The quick 6-0 lead allowed her to settle in further. She threw the first 3 1/3 innings, collecting six strikeouts, before handing things over to Madison Braddy. She set down all five of the batters she faced.

“(JV) is short games, so we get an opportunity to use (Madison) and give her some field time,” Robbins said. “When we pulled her up for it, she did exactly what she was supposed to do. “If we can get some time here for her to make her better, next year that’ll make us better.”

The second inning was more of the same. Columbia went three up, three down before Northside tacked on five more runs on four hits, which included Slade’s first of two triples in the game.

Leading 12-0 going into the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Panthers used a bit more power to score thrice more. Slade led off with a triple to centerfield. Newman and Cromwell followed up with a double apiece, each plating a run. With two outs, Kaitlyn Spain’s base hit down the left-field line gave the Lady Panthers their 15th and final run of the contest.

“We have a lot of players that kind of spent some time in the shadows last year. Put it in play and make the other team make a play,” Robbins said of the retooled Lady Panthers clicking on offense early on.

Even with a 2-0 start and some clearly explosive offense, Robbins is always paying attention to what Northside can improve on.

“There are several things. We really haven’t had to challenge our small game too much,” he said. “… In games like this tonight where we can gain the separation we need, that kind of takes a little bit of that out. We would have liked to have the opportunity to work on that.”

The Lady Panthers will certainly be challenged a bit more on Friday against a 2-A foe in Ayden-Grifton.