TODAY'S SPORTS

SOFTBALL: Lady Panthers denied by upstart Lebanon


SALEM - Lebanon High School used a last inning rally to end Page County's recent reign as queens of 2A softball Friday, defeating the Panthers 3-1 to advance to today's state 2A finals against Central of Woodstock.

The back-to-back two-time state champs were clinging to a 1-0 lead heading into the final inning of play, thanks to a solo home run off the bat of JMU bound Kate Gordon.

But the underdog Pioneers scratched out three runs in the top of the seventh on some tough, clutch hitting and a couple of uncharacteristic Page miscues to vault into the lead.

Then junior Hannah Morrison closed the door on the Panthers' hopes for a three-peat, retiring the Panthers in order in the bottom of the seventh.

"That last inning was such a relief and there was a lot of excitement going to the state final," Morrison said. "I was just trying to get them to hit to our defense."

The Pioneers (16-8), the Region 2A West runner-ups, dodged numerous Page chances to break the game open.

"Our conference (Clinch Mountain) is so tough, there are no easy games," said victorious head coach Sheila Adams, who has guided the Pioneers since 1995 after winning a state championship with Honaker High School. "Hannah (Morrison) has the ability to move the ball around, works hard, and not a lot bothers her."

It was a case of missed opportunities for Page County, who stranded nine baserunners.

"We had a ton of opportunities," said PCHS veteran head coach Alan Knight, who had seen his team win the Region 2A East title last week.

Gordon, who led off the order with a double deep in the gap in the first inning, was left stranded at third as the Panthers couldn't score after loading the bases.

The Page senior left no doubt in the third, ripping a Morrison pitch deep over the left field fence.

But that run would prove to be the only dent in the Lebanon armor as Morrison struck out six for the game and settled down the rest of the game.

For the rest of the game, the Panthers stranded six more runners. The usually dependable Page small-ball game was unsuccessful in increasing the lead.

For her part, Page freshman starting pitcher Sabrina Foltz pitched well enough to win most games, not allowing a walk, while striking out two and scattering six hits.

But Lebanon put three of those hits together in the top of the seventh, coming from behind to claim the win.

Gordon and Foltz led the Panthers with a pair of hits each.

"I had a good career here," Gordon said. "We overcame a lot of adversity this season and I'm proud of where we got to this year."

Lebanon went on to win the state title the next day at Radford University, defeating 2A East runner-up Central 2-1 in 16 innings.



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