Late rally comes up short for Lady Panthers

Zoey Wright had a hot bat in the Lady Panthers 5-6 loss to Wapello on May 22. She had four hits in four at-bats and scored four runs while also stealing two bases.

A night after hammering Davis County in the season opener, the Pekin softball team faced more of a challenge when they hosted Wapello on May 22. Pekin got out to a lead early, but a rally by Wapello gave the Lady Panthers their first loss in their first home game of the season.

    It was unknown how much Zoey Wright could do this early in the season, coming off an injury sustained midway through the track season. Nevertheless, she was the leadoff hitter against Wapello and backed up that spot by having a big game at the plate. She led the game off with a single, advanced to second base from a sacrifice, stole third and then scored on a single by Emilee Linder. That was the only run Pekin would score in the first two innings, and the only one they needed up to that point.

    “I feel it was important to get the lead right away and get the momentum on our side,” Lady Panthers coach Allison Glick said. “Zoey has a hot bat and her hitting the ball and getting on the way she has kind of got our spirits up.”

    In the third, Wapello managed to work their way around the bases and tie it up but couldn’t take the lead. Pekin responded with two more runs scoring, one due to a deep ball hit by Wright which reached the fence. The depth of the hit allowed her to get to third base easily and her speed played an even bigger role by rounding the base and scoring before the ball reached the catcher via an errant throw. Cate Roth reached base via a walk, stole second and then scored on a single by Ellie Ledger.

    The momentum gained didn’t last long as Wapello managed to tie game up at three in the fourth inning. Pekin was unable to get much going in the bottom half of the fourth and the game remained tied at three with three innings to play.

    “We wanted to put the pressure on them and make them do it, not us,” Glick said. “I know we’ve got our hitters and we just needed to put the ball in play more.”

    Wright continued to swing a hot bat, leading the bottom of the fifth off with triple. Linder was able to bring her home with a sacrifice hit to first base. Pekin was held to the lone run again and held onto the narrow lead going into the final inning. Wapello started off the seventh with a home run following a long at bat, and then tacked on another two runs to take a two-run lead.

    Even though the Lady Panthers were down to their last three outs, they had the top of the order at bat to get them the needed runs. The rally started with when Wright got on base with a single in the gap. She advanced to second via a sacrifice bunt by Roth and proceeded to score from a Linder double. Down to their final out and a runner on second, Ledger wound up striking out to end the game.

    Cari Duwa went the distance by pitching all seven innings, giving up nine hits and striking out one.

    “This was the first game that Cari pitched,” Glick said. “She’s still looking good. It’s just mentally getting there still.”

    Lady Panther leaders: Zoey Wright – 4 runs, Emilee Linder – 3 RBI, Zoey Wright – 2 SB