MCDERMOTT – After falling behind by a 3-0 tally, the Clay Lady Panthers were put in a position that had been unfamiliar to the program all season long as the Northwest Lady Mohawks used their hitting abilities to jump out to a 3-0 advantage after three innings of play.
But once again, Clay proved that it had the winning formula as the game wound down. A two-run home run by Cassidy Wells, along with another two-run base knock by Lila Brown, allowed the Lady Panthers to take a hard-fought matchup over the Lady Mohawks, 7-4, in a non-league match-up in McDermott on Wednesday evening.
“We had to grind that one out,” Clay head coach Jason Gearheart said. “Northwest played well today. Hats off to (Northwest coach) Darrell (Keller). He’s doing a good job here at Northwest.”
And it was Northwest who gained early momentum with its play in the field, by cutting down a runner at third base in stalling what could have been a big inning for Clay.
In the third inning, Northwest broke a scoreless tie. After a one-out walk from Alexis Lute and a single by Laiken Rice advanced Lute to third, Lute scored on an infield error as Rice attempted — and stole — second base while the ball sailed into the outfield. Then, after a Hope Shepherd walk, Addisyn Newman scored Rice and Shepherd on a two-RBI triple to put the Lady Mohawks up by a 3-0 tally.
However, Clay had the answer over the next half-inning. After Julia Swain reached on a fielding error, Bre Donahoe followed by reaching on another fielding error and Cassidy Wells drew a walk to load the bases. Then, following Hannah Oliver’s fielder’s choice RBI groundout that scored Swain, Lila Brown drove home Wells and Oliver’s courtesy runner, Abby Ware, with a two-RBI single to knot the contest at three apiece.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Lady Panthers struck again. After Donahoe reached on yet another error, Wells drilled a two-run bomb over the right-center field fence, which gave Clay the lead for good.
“That was a big hit by Cassidy,” Gearheart said. “I think that’s her first high school home run, so it was a huge hit for her.”
Following Wells’ homer, two additional Northwest errors allowed the Lady Panthers to add onto their overall total. Brown scored on a fielding error by the center fielder, and an errant throw by the first basemen allowed Elisa Collins to scamper home. Northwest committed six errors for the game.
“We had a few errors (in the sixth inning),” Northwest head coach Darrell Keller said. “They (Clay) took advantage of that, which they should have. Our girls learned some lessons and got some valuable experience (in the sixth inning), which will help us going forward.”
In the bottom of the seventh frame, Northwest tried to mount a charge, as a pair of walks by Lute and Rice allowed Newman to plate the former on a RBI base knock. However, it would be too little, too late for the Lady Mohawks, and despite edging the Lady Panthers in hits by a 7-5 tally, it would be Clay who emerged victorious as the Lady Panthers committed only one error all game en route to the victory.
The win improves Clay’s record to 22-1 on the season with a doubleheader on Saturday against Albany Alexander and Unioto before heading into sectional tournament play next week. The loss drops Northwest to 8-13. The Mohawks hosted Oak Hill on Thursday and will travel to Mowrystown Whiteoak on Friday before entering sectional play.
Clay 000 304 0 – 7 5 1
Northwest 030 000 1 – 4 7 6