Paintsville just couldn’t find a way to knock Pikeville off the top of the 15th Region All “A” championship.
The Lady Panthers picked up a 7-3 win over Paintsville to claim the 15th Region All “A” Classic championship.
This is Pikeville’s sixth straight 15th Region All “A” Classic title.
The Lady Panthers jumped out to an early lead. In the top of the first, Olivia Whitfield hit an RBI single to give Pikeville a 2-0 lead.
Pikeville added another run in the top of the second. Hannah Akers drew a leadoff walk. Kelsie Adams followed with a sacrifice bunt. Emily Ford followed with a single. Kendall Hall added an RBI single as the lead grew to 3-0
“That was huge and our goal to get out to a lead because that wouldn’t be as much pressure on our Emily (Ford),” Pikeville coach Brandi Jo Howard said. “She pitched an amazing game and she always does. Our hitters did well in the box. They went out looking for good pitches and whenever they saw their pitch, they drove it. Our goal was to aggressive on the bases and I thought we did really good up.”
Ford got out to a great start on the mound. She picked up the win. Ford struck out nine batters in the first four innings and didn’t give up a hit in that time as well.
Pikeville tacked on two more runs in the top of the fifth. Whitfield had big double for the Lady Panthers in the inning.
Paintsville’s bats got going in the fifth, though. Anna Keeton singled and Clara Blair drove her home with an RBI single. Taylor Stumbo reached with an RBI bunt single to cut the lead to 5-2.
Akers added an RBI double in the top of the seventh that gave the Lady Panthers some more cushion as Pikeville scored two runs in the top of the seventh.
“I have confidence (in hitters) one through nine,” Howard said. “I also have players on the bench. Eighth-grader Emily Adkins came out and got a clutch hit for us in the seventh inning, so I was really proud of her. We worked on hitting a lot in the offseason and it’s starting to show. I’m really proud of them in not only their physical game, but also in their mental game.”
Late in the game, Akers made a huge diving catch for the Lady Panthers as well.
“I’m so proud,” Howard said. “I tell my girls that we have to have solid defense behind our pitcher. Just to see Hannah (Akers) come out and do that, I think it got everyone else excited and gave us some momentum. That was a huge out for us because Paintsville started making contact. I was really proud of her and all of these girls for their hard work and dedication.”
Pikeville has four seniors on the roster and Lindsey Lockhart is out with an injury. The bulk of the Lady Panther roster is made up of freshman and eighth-graders. The Lady Panthers have seven eighth-graders on the roster, five freshman, two seventh-graders, a sophomore and no juniors to go along with the four seniors.
“Coming in, I knew it would be a rebuilding year,” Howard said. “We only have four seniors and one of our seniors is our shortstop and clean up hitter has a torn meniscus, so she’s out right now. We come out here and play for her because she’d love to be out here right now. So I tell the girls, ‘Every time you’re on the field give it 110 percent because you never know when it might be your last day.’ But these senior leaders are great for the young girls. They way they act, it just rubs off on the young girls. It’s like a ladder, goes all the way down.”
Pikeville will play in the All “A” Classic state tournament April 27. The Lady Panthers will be in Pool D against the winners of Region 5, Region 11 and Region 14. Pikeville’s first game will be at 10:30 a.m. April 27 against Region 14 and then the Lady Panthers will take on Region 11 at 2:00 p.m. Pikeville’s final game of Pool Play will be at 5:30 p.m. against the Region 5 winner.
Winning the 15th Region gives Pikeville some extra momentum heading into the All “A” Classic state championship.
“It’s huge,” Howard said. “We’re ready to go down there and face some good competition, but we’re ready. We prepared over Spring Break by going to Pigeon Forge and playing some really good teams. We always try to play up so it makes us better and I think we’re ready.”
Pikeville (9-4) is scheduled to visit Johnson Central this evening at 6:00 p.m. Pikeville will host the Lyndel Potter Memorial Tournament Friday and Saturday.
Paintsville (8-6) is scheduled to host Magoffin County at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening in 57th District action.