Clay 5, Albany Alexander 4 (F/8)
Behind an excellent all-around effort, the Clay Lady Panthers were able to walk away with a 5-4 victory in extra innings after trailing by a 3-0 count after three-and-a-half innings of play to an especially tough Albany Alexander squad on Saturday afternoon at Unioto High School in Chillicothe.
Behind a gritty performance from Hannah Oliver, who threw a complete game seven-hitter while striking out five and walking only one for a 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, Clay was able to stay within striking distance of its affair with Alexander despite trailing by the 3-0 tally early on.
Jensen Warnock led Clay’s rally by going 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. The home run came in the fourth inning as Warnock helped begin the strong charge by the Panthers.
Oliver, along with Elisa Collins, Shaelynn Vassar, Cassidy Wells, and Chloi Hayslip, collected at least one hit for Clay, with Collins and Vassar each going 1-for-4 at the top of the lineup. Oliver went 1-for-3 with two RBI, Wells went 1-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored, and Hayslip went 1-for-4 with the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth that completed the comeback.
Julia Swain and Bre Donahoe drew three walks and scored a pair of runs to play a critical part in the comeback.
Clay 9, Unioto 7
After grabbing a thrilling victory over Alexander, Clay responded to its thrilling victory by grabbing an 8-2 lead over homestanding Unioto on Saturday afternoon and held on for a 9-7 victory over the Sherman Tanks to cap off a clean sweep of its opponents in the tri-match.
Warnock and Vassar led the way for Clay — who grabbed 17 hits on the evening — by obtaining four hits apiece in five trips to the dish. Warnock collected a double, three RBI, and a run scored, while Vassar scored a run of her own to lead the Panthers’ offensive attack.
Collins, along with Lila Brown and Julia Swain, each collected a pair of hits on the day, with Brown going 2-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored, Collins going 2-for-5 and matching Brown with a RBI and two runs scored, and Swain going 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Swain also collected the win in the circle, going five innings, striking out nine, and walking four for a 2.5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Oliver and Wells, along with Bre Donahoe, each collected a hit on the day. Donahoe went 1-for-4 with a RBI, Wells went 1-for-4, and Oliver — who threw two innings of scoreless softball to pick up the save — went 1-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored to round out Clay’s efforts for the day.
Clay will finish up its regular season slate with a contest at Piketon on Monday.
Rock Hill 4, Clay 1
Despite solid pitching performances from Dakota Dodds and Keith Cottle against a much larger school in Rock Hill, the Clay Panthers weren’t able to take home a road win back to Rosemount as Clay fell to Rock Hill, 4-1, on Friday evening in Pedro.
Dodds, who threw three and a third innings of seven-hit, three-strikeout ball, and Cottle, who threw two and two-thirds innings of three-strikeout, no-hit, no-run baseball, were strong for the Panthers throughout the day on Friday evening. However, three errors by Clay and an excellent defensive performance by Rock Hill proved to be the difference in the 4-1 victory.
“It was a tough loss against a very good, well-coached Rock Hill team,” Clay head coach Marc Cottle said. “It didn’t show up on the stat sheet, but we hit the ball really well. Dakota and Keith pitched well, but we struggled defensively in a couple of innings. We have to regroup and get ready for a sectional championship contest against East on Tuesday.”
Reece Whitley led Clay from the eight-hole by going 1-for-2 with a RBI, while Grant Hempill went 1-for-2 with a RBI and a run scored to aid the Panthers. Cottle collected a hit in three trips to the plate and Cole Gilliland, along with McGwire Garrison, each drew one walk apiece to round out the offensive performance.
Clay finished the regular season with a 13-9 record and will host East on Tuesday in a Division IV, Southeast I Sectional Championship contest.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930