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April 15, 2016

Blair Softball rallies to beat Paint Branch Panthers

by Lauren Frost, Online Entertainment Editor
The Blair softball team (3-0) took on the Paint Branch Panthers (1-2) on Friday night. Though the Blazers faltered early against the aggressive hitting of the Panthers, the team was able to mount a stunning comeback to win the game 12-8.

In the first inning it was clear that the Panthers had come to Blair ready to win. They began the game aggressively and were able to catch the Blazer defense and pitching off guard. According to senior captain Mildred Devereux, the team couldn’t find their rhythm because of the Panthers early offensive pressure. "They came here ready to play. I think it took us a little while to get our intensity up,” said Devereux. The Blazers allowed the Panthers to score six runs in the first three innings while the Panthers were able to hold the Blazers to just two.

Coming out with renewed energy in the bottom of the third the Blazers were visibly and audibly determined to come back and win the game. Their turn at bat started with a double by junior Allison Mackenzie to get the momentum started. The Blazers were able to get another player on base after the Paint Branch pitcher walked junior Cameron Vanderwolf. Unfortunately for the team, they were unable to capitalize on this and stranded the two runners on base leaving the score 2-6.

Effectively stopped by the Panthers on offense, the Blazers turned to their defense to get them back into the game at the top of the fourth inning. A quick out to first started the Panthers turn at bat. This was immediately followed by a Panthers player being struck out by senior pitcher Karylena Cruz. After the strikeout by Cruz the Blazers quickly got their third out and got the chance to be back on offense. After stopping the Panthers the Blazers were able to score one run during the bottom of the fourth to make the score 3-6 to begin the fifth inning.

This third run got the ball rolling for the Blazers. A single by Mackenzie started the bottom of the fifth inning and what would be a huge scoring run for the Blazers. Vanderwolf followed this up with another single and a line drive by junior Lily Montgomery allowed for both Mackenzie and Vanderwolf to come home making the score 5-7. These two runs were only the beginning for the Blazers, a double by freshman Naimh Ducey brought Montgomery home which was followed up by another double by Devereux which would bring Ducey home and tie the game 7-7. The Blazers were not satisfied with just being tied, and the girls were able to score another run before getting their first out.

The onslaught of runs forced Paint Branch to switch pitchers but this did little for them. With the bases loaded after a mishandled foul ball by the Paint Branch cather and Vanderwolf up to bat the Blazers were still revving to go. On two consecutive plays the Blazers were able to slide and steal home plate ending the inning 10-7 and on a six run streak. According to Devereux the girls work on the mental aspect of hitting really showed during this game and helped them in their comeback. "We've been working on a lot of hitting especially the mental part of hitting, we all believed that everybody, whoever went up, was going to get a hit, was going to start the rally and was going to keep us going," Devereux said.

After a strong offensive inning the Blazers defense continued to play strong allowing for the Panthers to only score one run in the sixth. The bottom of the sixth inning meant more runs for the Blazers as Montgomery, Cassia Rogers Williams, contributed hits to load the bases. A single by senior Anna Reachmack then was able to bring a runner home. Cruz hit a ball deep into the outfield in order to bring another runner home and end the inning 12-8.

The comeback was one of the better games of the season, according to Devereux. "I think this has been one of the best games that we have had so far because of the intensity we had, the communication we had on the field and everybody was relaxed and confident when they went up to hit."



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