The Palmyra softball team continued its playoff run Wednesday with a 7-1 win over North Callaway in a Class 2 sectional playoff game.
Bailey Lovelace had been marred in a slump over the past three games.
And it looked like her misfortunes would continue Wednesday night.
The Palmyra sophomore was doubled off second base in the top of the first inning. The play all but ended the Lady Panthers threat to strike first against North Callaway.
But she bounced back.
Lovelace used her speed to beat out an infield hit in the top of the fourth inning. The play sparked a three-run rally to break a scoreless tie. Palmyra kept the momentum the rest of the game for a 7-1 win over the Ladybirds in a Class 2 sectional game at Flower City Park.
“I was really nervous in the beginning 'cause I know I have been struggling,” the sophomore said. “And I knew I have some speed so I just tried to use it to get on base and it worked out.”
Lovelace kicked into high gear on the next pitch as she stole second base.
Then the big bats for the Lady Panthers took over.
Brooke Wilson followed with an RBI single to score the first run of the game. Baylee Anderson kept the offense clicking as she lined an RBI single to right field scoring courtesy runner Belle Biswell for the second run. Four batters later, Morgan Ingram capped the inning with a two-out RBI single.
“It was good to see the offense get going tonight,” Palmyra coach Jill Arch said. “We knew if we could execute some bunts and use our speed we could have some success. We knew once we got some bunts down our hits would come and that is what happened.”
Even facing a 3-0 deficit, North Callaway coach Brandi Thomsen mentioned she still had a good feeling.
“We have been hitting the ball and scoring runs all season, so I was not overly concerned with the early runs we gave up there,” the Ladybirds coach said. “But we just couldn’t find a hole tonight when we needed to.”
Offense was at a premium for the Lady Panthers through their first two postseason games. But Wednesday night, Palmyra tacked on runs in the final three innings.
Anderson collected her second hit of the game and sixth of the postseason with an RBI single in the fifth. The hit scored Lovelace, who recorded a single earlier in the inning.
Wilson added a two-run single in the sixth for a 6-0 lead.
“Those two have done great,” Arch said of her seniors Anderson and Wilson. “They have came up with some big hits and they have been hard hits too, not just little dinkers.”
Wilson admitted she and Anderson realize every game could be their last.
“She is my best friend on and off the field,” Wilson said of Anderson. “And we both know our senior season is coming to a close so we want to make it the best it’s been.”
Cameron O’Brien capped the Lady Panthers scoring with an RBI double in the seventh inning. The sophomore’s double to center field came after a pinch-hit double from Ashley Lay.
North Callaway (20-6) scored its lone run of the game in the seventh inning. It was the first run Lady Panthers hurler Alana Comstock had given up in 18 innings of work this postseason.
Comstock allowed just three hits and struck out nine in the win.
“Alana pitched another great game,” Lovelace said. “And our defense was there to back her up tonight.”
Lovelace (3), Anderson (2), O’Brien (2) and Wilson (2) combined for nine of the Lady Panthers 14 hits.
“We struggled offensively in districts, but I think it is coming back,” Wilson said of the offense. “(Batters) 1-9 we all hit tonight and we are ready for Saturday.”
The Lady Panthers (19-8) travel to Bowling Green (23-4) for a quarterfinal game.
Bowling Green, which defeated Metro 20-0 on Wednesday night, beat Palmyra 7-1 a month ago.
“I am glad we get another shot at them,” Wilson said. “The screws kind of came loose the last time we played them. So we will be ready on Saturday.”