Panthers comeback falls short, deciding game later Saturday

Published 1:28 pm Saturday, June 1, 2024

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Northside’s 1A state championship series will be decided in the third game after East Wilkes fought off elimination and a Panthers comeback with a 7-5 victory Saturday afternoon at Duke Softball Stadium.

The Panthers (22-5) gave up a run in the first, but Bella Boykin struck out consecutive batters with the bases loaded to prevent further damage.

The Cardinals (28-4) made it 2-0 with an unearned run in the fourth on an error and two hits, before Northside answered with Samantha Braddy’s two-out double to left that scored Jorden Clark, who had singled for the Panthers first hit.

East Wilkes struck back with a lead-off home run in the 5th for a 3-1 advantage, then broke the game open with four runs on five hits against reliever Londyn Keech in the top of the sixth.

Northside plated a run in the bottom of the sixth on doubles from Emaleigh Cherry and Jorden
Clark, then made things interesting with three in the bottom of the seventh.

Keech led off with a double off the center field wall, Jorden Clark walked, then Megan Hopkins launched a three-run homer over the wall in left field. The Cardinals made three sparkling infield plays for the final three outs to force the deciding game.

The Cardinals out-hit the Panthers 10-6.

First pitch for the deciding game is scheduled for 5 p.m.