SMITHVILLE – There was no shortage of runs last Tuesday night as Amory and Smithville faced off in each team’s slow-pitch softball division opener.
The Lady Panthers scored four runs in the top of seventh and pounded out five home runs to take the 18-16 victory.
“We didn’t have a zero on the board in any inning, and we had the least amount of errors,” Amory coach Chris Pace said. “We were able to hold them a couple of times in the last few innings. I think that was the first game we all enjoyed. We got about 14 to 15 girls in the game and only have 20 right now. We’re getting there and still finding a couple of spots, just doing some different things. It’s been a different year for sure.”
Amory scored four runs in the top of the first. Emma Walker and Addie Bunch each had singles, and Macie Williams walked to load the bases for Maggie Kate Cummings, who drove in a pair with a single and a Smithville error also coming off the play. Cassidy Simmons singled up the middle to send home another run, and Laney Howell reached on an error to make it 4-0, but Smithville got out of the inning without further damage on an out at home.
Smithville answered with three in the bottom of the inning and cut it to a one-run game. Tara Parham and Orlandria Smith each reached on errors to start things off, and Harley Hatley loaded the bases with a hit. Lara Grace Woods grabbed a one-out RBI single, and Tristin Price drew a bases loaded walk. Lindsey Cox drove in the final run of the first with her sacrifice fly.
Walker smashed a solo homer with one out in the top of the second to stretch Amory’s lead to 5-3, but the Lady Noles put up six runs in the bottom half. Smith and Annie Brooke Morgan each hit RBI singles, while Woods drew a bases-loaded walk and Cox sent two more home with her fielder’s choice to make it 9-5. Hallie Benson, Olivia Carter and Parham also had hits in the inning.
The Lady Panthers cut that to 9-7 in the third. Williams led off with a solo homer for her first of the season, and Cummings followed her with a hit and scored after a pair of errors. The Lady Noles went three up, three down in the bottom half, and Connor Stevens tied the game at 9-9 with her two-run bomb after a single from Walker.
Smithville answered and went up 10-9 on Price’s RBI single but the inning ended with a runner being tagged out at third.
Amory got contributions from its bench in the fifth. Emory Boddie led off with a pinch-hit single, and Riley Ray reached on an error. McKinley Dean came through with a two-run double but was hit by a line drive up the middle by Walker for an out, and another pair of groundouts ended the inning with the Lady Panthers up 11-10.
Smith had the big smash in the bottom of the inning as her grand slam gave Smithville at 14-11 lead after a hit by Carter, an error off the bat of Cox and a walk to Parham.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Simmons hit her first career homer to tie the game in the top of the sixth after Williams and Cummings each hit doubles.
Smithville went back up by two in the bottom half on RBI hits by Price and Carter but had another baserunning blunder when a runner was called out to end the inning for leaving her base early.
Walker and Stevens led off with back-to-back solo bombs for each’s second home run of the game and tied the game at 16-16.
“Emma and Connor had huge nights, and Cassidy had a big at bat with her home run and is throwing the ball better,” Pace said. “It was a good time for her first home run.”
Bunch kept things moving with a single but was erased on a fielder’s choice. Another couple of errors led the bases, and Simmons came through with her fifth RBI of the night. Karsen Sanders drove in the final run with a fielder’s choice, and the Lady Panthers set Smithville down in order in the bottom half with three popups.
The two meet again in division play at Amory on Sept. 17.