Tuesday, April 07, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> CHS girls get split at home

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot High School softball team split its 7A/6A-East Conference doubleheader with Marion on Friday at the CHS softball field. In game one of the twin bill, the Lady Panthers lost 2-1, but the hosts rebounded in the nightcap with an 11-3 win over the Lady Patriots.

The loss in game one was the first conference loss of the season for the Lady Panthers, which Cabot coach Chris Cope wasn’t pleased with.

“We came out flat, didn’t want to play and Marion took advantage of it,” said Cope. “We didn’t hit the ball – then made two errors that were very costly to us.”

Each team scored a run in the first inning of game one, but neither team scored again until the top of the sixth, when Marion set the final score.

Lady Patriot clean-up hitter Micah Tolleson hit a one-out single to start the sixth-inning rally, and Hope Phipps followed with a single of her own. Two batters later, Regan Johnston walked to load the bases.

Cabot’s most costly miscue came during the next at-bat. With two outs and the bases juiced, Tolleson scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball at home plate, which eventually set the final score.

The Lady Panthers had a runner on first base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Marion’s winning pitcher, Mabry Watson, struck out Cabot’s final batter to end the game in the Lady Pats’ favor.

Displeased with his team’s showing in game one, Cope made several lineup adjustments for the second game, and the Lady Panthers responded.

Cabot, who played as the visiting team in game two of the doubleheader, scored four runs in the first inning to lead 4-0, and even though the Lady Panthers gave up three runs in the second, they, too, scored three runs in that inning to lead 7-3 after two.

Cabot’s Kaitlyn Felder increased the hosts’ lead to 8-3 in the top of the fifth with a two-out, solo home run to straightaway center field, and the Lady Panthers added two more runs to their side of the board in the top of the sixth.

Lauren McCluskey led off the sixth inning with a stand-up double to deep left center, and senior Megan Goodnight hit a stand-up double the next at-bat. Two batters later, fellow senior Erin Eckert hit a one-out, stand-up double to right-center field, scoring both McCluskey and Goodnight for a 10-3 Cabot lead.

The Lady Panthers set the final score in the top of the seventh with one more insurance run. That run was driven in on a two-out, RBI single to left field by Goodnight.

Felder, Cabot’s junior catcher, took over pitching duties for Goodnight in the middle of the second inning. She pitched the rest of the game, and was stellar throughout her time in the circle.

She didn’t give up a single hit against Marion (7-3-1, 3-1), finishing the game with five strikeouts to just two walks. She retired the side in the bottom of the seventh to put the exclamation point on Cabot’s game-two win.

“She pitched her freshman year for us, and we needed a catcher last year,” Cope said of Felder. “She was the only one we had, but we got some options now. She looked really good. I was very proud of her. She came in and shut them down and did well.”

Goodnight led Cabot at the plate in game two. She went 5 for 5 with four singles and a double. McCluskey also had a good game at the plate in game two, going 3 for 3 with two doubles and three runs scored.

In game one, Cabot totaled just four hits. Goodnight led the Lady Panthers in that game as well, going 2 for 3 and driving in Cabot’s only run of the game. Felder and Macee Abbott combined for Cabot’s other two hits in game one.

The Lady Panthers (12-3, 3-1) play a nonconference game against Class 5A Sylvan Hills today at home. That game will start at 5 p.m., and on Friday, Cabot will resume its 7A/6A-East schedule with a home doubleheader against Mountain Home. The first game of that twin bill will also start at 5 p.m.