Bear Grass scoots by Lady Panthers

Published 8:30 pm Thursday, March 15, 2018

PINETOWN — Teagan Pilgreen was set up on third base, ready to come in to score the tying run in the bottom of the seventh Thursday evening. Bear Grass third baseman Kaley Silverthorne chased down a foul ball — and ran into the fence in the process — to record the final out in a 5-4 win for the Lady Bears.

Northside only had one out to conjure up a run after the first two Lady Panther batters grounded out. Pilgreen singled through the right side, and Whitney Cromwell followed with a hard-hit ball to second that resulted in an error.

The game boiled down to Bear Grass committing one fewer mistake than Northside.

“The girls are working to work it out. We’re in an injury situation,” Northside coach Gil Robbins said. He was without seniors Rebekah Williams, the No. 1 pitcher, and Kaitlyn Spain. “The reality is that we made a couple of mistakes on the field and they made plays.”

The Lady Panthers broke through first in the bottom of the first. Rylie Newman led off with a base hit into shallow centerfield. She moved into scoring position on Savannah Slade’s groundout, then came home on Cromwell’s line drive over the middle.

Sophomore pitcher Madison Braddy found her groove after allowing a hit in the first. She struck out all three batters she faced in the second, but the defense behind her came unraveled in the third.

Lady Bear underclassmen Bailey Peed and Alexis Holliday began the inning with consecutive bunts. Northside’s infield struggled to field them properly, which helped put two in scoring position with no outs. Bear Grass took the lead on back-to-back knocks by Morgan Lee and Silverthorne. Pitcher Keagan Wilkerson extended the visitors’ lead to 4-1 with a two-RBI shot to right field.

Braddy remained locked in even as things behind her came unglued. She got all three outs at the plate by catching three batters looking.

“She is exceptional. That’s one of the reasons we rely on her like we do. She’s stoic,” Robbins said. “She plays with that poker face. You don’t teach that.”

Madison Braddy distributes a pitch to a Bear Grass batter.

Northside got two back in the bottom of the stanza. Pilgreen lifted a ball into shallow left field to let Newman come in. Cromwell followed by taking an 0-2 pitch and sending it back up the middle, plating Slade in the process.

The Lady Panthers knotted the game in the fourth after Braddy induced three-straight groundouts in the top of the inning. Emori Smith and Brooklyn Hudnell had consecutive base hits. Then, with two outs, a pair of Bear Grass errors provided the opening for Smith to tie the game at 4-4.

The Lady Bears notched the go-ahead run on another inning marred by multiple errors. Lee came home for what stood as the winning run on a mistake that prompted Robbins to make a change in the infield.

Northside minimized damage by getting two quick outs to leave the bases loaded, but went down in order in the sixth and left the tying run on third in the seventh.

The Lady Panthers traveled to Bertie on Friday. They’ll open 1-A Coastal Plains play Tuesday when they host South Creek.