Hannibal Courier-Post

Panthers' late rally sends Tigers to first loss

Palmyra's Abbey Redd, right, slides safely into third base as Canton's Tegan Burbridge waits for the ball during Monday's softball game in Canton, Mo.
Mat Mikesell/Courier-Post
By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: Oct. 8, 2019 9:26 am Updated: Oct. 8, 2019 9:29 am

CANTON, Mo. — Megan Stone was willing to give up a run in the bottom of the first inning.

The Canton softball team had runners on the corners in the opening frame as Hunter Collins stole second base ahead of Stone's throw. Meanwhile, Canton's Abby Hultz scored from third on the play for a 1-0 lead over Palmyra.

“That was the play call,” Stone said. “We knew one run wasn't going to kill us. We had a lot of faith in our lineup and had to score anyway to win.”

Palmyra's runs just came a little later than expected.

Two errors in the top of the sixth inning led to the only runs Palmyra needed in a 2-1 victory Monday night at the Cotton Bowl, handing Canton its first loss of the season.

Stone started the rally.

Stone hit a sharp grounder that went through the Canton third baseman's legs, allowing her to reach base. Cameron O'Brien followed with a double to center that scored Stone and tied the game, and O'Brien moved to third on the throw. Bailey Lovelace followed with a deep flyball to left that hit off the outfielder's glove and allowed O'Brien to score and give Palmyra (15-6) a 2-1 lead.

“Our whole motto is just whatever it takes,” Stone said. “I just wanted to get on base and hope someone could knock me in.”

It was the spark Palmyra needed after a sluggish few games.

“We haven't been scoring runs like we normally do,” Palmyra coach Jill Arch said. “But our pitching has really come through for us.”

Panthers pitcher Lydia Althoff settled in after the first inning. She struck out the side in the second and third innings on the way to retiring the final 18 hitters she faced. Althoff allowed just two hits while striking out 11.

“We didn't do our job offensively,” Canton coach Jonathan Bastian said. “We needed to be better with the bats and make adjustments quicker. Our approach just wasn't consistent. (Althoff) is really good, and has good stuff, and we need to be able to hit good stuff if we're going to do anything in the postseason.”

Hultz was just as effective in the circle for Canton (17-1). She scattered seven hits and struck out eight without a walk.

Bastian, however, now thinks the Tigers can play without the stresses of a perfect record.

“We always say the record doesn't matter,” Bastian said. “We just want to be getting better every day and play our best ball by postseason.”