Panthers fall short against Fairfield
FAIRFIELD — The Mt. Pleasant softball team scored two runs in the opening frame and two more in the final inning, but Fairfield scored eight in between to claim a Class 4A regional victory over the Panthers on Thursday night, 8-4.
Mt. Pleasant ends its season with a record of 10-31.
The Panthers lost all four of their regular-season games against Fairfield — by a combined score of 41-0 — but the young Mt. Pleasant players didn’t let that intimidate them, and they came up with their best performance against the Trojans on the season.
“(Scoring two runs early) definitely got the girls going — they came out ready to play,” Coach Angie Rodgers said. “We had a lot of good hits.”
Leading the Panthers in that category was the team’s lone senior, Sammi Goble. She went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs in her final game as a Panther.
“Sammi Goble did a nice job at the plate for us,” Rodgers said. “We will miss her bat in the lineup, and her glove defensively. All around, she’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached. We will definitely miss her.”
But the Panthers return a number of other talented players — including Leslie Taylor and Kelsey Smith, each of whom had a pair of hits in last night’s regional.
Other hits came from Jena Stukerjurgen and Sarah Moffett. Hattie Liechty scored a run.
The Panthers started strong in the game, putting up two runs in their first chance at the plate.
They held that lead for an inning before Fairfield was able to post four runs of their own in the bottom of the second.
The Trojans went on to add two runs in the third and one in each of the fourth and fifth frames.
Mt. Pleasant added two runs in the seventh, but couldn’t close the gap.
“We definitely had a chance at a comeback, but it was a little too late,” Rodgers said. “But we didn’t give up; we worked hard for seven innings, and we finished the season on a high note.”
Though earlier games against Fairfield weren’t as competitive as last night’s contest, Rodgers says that her players were “absolutely” capable of playing a close game against Fairfield all season.
“There’s a lot of talent on this team; I think they’re just starting to believe in themselves,” Rodgers said.
With that belief has come a much-improved defense.
“The defense was starting, in the last five games or so, to be really solid, making a lot of heads-up plays,” Rodgers said. “Now we just need to be more consistent with our pitching and hitting.”
The inconsistent hitting cost the Panthers a few runs in last night’s game, as the team stranded six baserunners on the night.
“We left several runners on,” Rodgers said.
The Mt. Pleasant pitchers in last night’s game were Cali Liechty and Bailey Johnson. Liechty started on the mound and went 2 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits while walking one batter. She allowed six runs (four earned).
Johnson pitched in relief. She gave up three hits and four walks for two runs (one earned) in 3 2/3 innings. She struck out one.
Both Panther pitchers are eighth graders, as are two other Panther starters — Allison Buckert and Sarah Moffett. The Panthers also started a freshman and two sophomores in last night’s game.
“We’re young; I hope everyone returns and is healthy next season — we will have a lot of letterwinners returning,” Rodgers said. “We have three juniors (Taylor, Smith and Ali Dorn), all of whom are very good and have important roles — they will be our three leaders next year.”
MT. PLEASANT @ FAIRFIELD
Mt. Pleasant 200 000 2 — 4
Fairfield 042 110 x — 8
WP — Alli Deao
LP — Cali Liechty
Mt. Pleasant — Leslie Taylor: 2-4, 2 runs. Sammi Goble: 3-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI, run. Jena Stukerjurgen: 1-4, RBI. Sarah Moffett: 1-3. Kelsey Smith: 2-3. Hattie Liechty: 0-3, HBP, run. Steals — Taylor.
Fairfield — Sydney Burnett: 0-3, 2 BB. Katie Anderson: 1-4, RBI. Kenady Waugh: 1-3, BB, run. Marisa Repp: 1-4, run. Mackenzie McClure: 2-4, 2B, RBI, 2 runs. Madison Roberts: 2-4, HR, 4 RBI, 2 runs. McKenna Ledger: 1-3, BB, run. Makenzie Flattery: 2-3, 2B, BB, run. Steals — McClure and Ledger.