EHS pulls out late-inning win over PrescottEllsworth was held without a hit for the first five innings against Prescott Thursday but the Panthers scored three runs on four hits in the sixth inning to secure a 3-2 victory in Ellsworth.
By: Chris Harrell - Red Wing Republican-Eagle, Pierce County Herald
Ellsworth was held without a hit for the first five innings against Prescott Thursday but the Panthers scored three runs on four hits in the sixth inning to secure a 3-2 victory in Ellsworth.
It took Ellsworth all five innings to take a good swing against Prescott’s Annie Pryor but got all the offense it needed in the sixth inning.
“With this team, it’s a momentum thing,” Ellsworth head coach Ryan Casper said.
Senior Taylor Nelson went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored for the Panthers (7-1, 5-1 Middle Border) and senior Halle Hatch provided her own stellar pitching performance to get the win. Hatch went all seven innings and allowed one earned run on four hits while striking out four.
“I felt really comfortable,” Hatch said. “My defense picked me up. My drop ball and curve was working.”
Prescott got the scoring started with a home run in the first inning by Mary Kate Pryor but neither team got another hit until the sixth inning. Pryor finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
In the sixth inning, Nelson led off with a double after falling while rounding first base. Casper said it was a crucial hit from an important leader on the team but it also helped the team relax.
“That’s the momentum starter,” he said. “That loosened them up a bit. You need to rely on those girls in those situations.”
Nelson’s hit proved to be all the Panthers needed to get going as they took advantage of their team speed and ability to manufacture runs. After the leadoff double, Ellsworth used fake bunts and slap hits to string together three straight singles and a fielder’s choice to take a 3-1 lead.
Pryor got Prescott jumpstarted again in the seventh inning with a near home run to lead off the inning that hit the fence for a double. Paige Durhman followed with a single and after a series of misplays by the Panthers, Pryor came around to score and Durhman advanced to second base as the tying run with no outs. It was a shaky beginning to the inning, but Hatch remained calm and induced three straight outs to win the game.
“I really believe in our defense,” Hatch said. “I knew once we all came together, it’d be no problem.”
As Ellsworth attempts to replace three graduated seniors from the middle of its order last season, the Panthers’ youth shows in their offensive inconsistency, Casper said.
“These are the growing pains we go through,” Casper said. “There’s a huge void there we’re trying to fill.”
While the Panthers escaped with the victory, Hatch said they know a better start is needed to keep up their hot start to the season.
“I think small ball helped us win this game,” she said. “We’re capable of a lot more but it was nice to see we could come through.”