Lady Panthers finish season strong, add Bi-District Championship
The Van Alstyne Lady Panthers found the right time to get hot and are now experiencing post-season success. The Lady Panthers came into district play with a highly successful pre-district record. However, playing in the new 4A district took a learning curve. After the first round of the competition, the Lady Panthers lost some close games and were in playoff contention but were in fourth place. Upon completion of the district season, the team found themselves involved in a three-way tie for second place.
Before the playoffs would start, they would have to win consecutive games over Aubrey and Celina to move up. They did just that. Coach Jason Brogdon said of his teams' late-season success, "After a sluggish start in district play, the girls seemed to understand the importance of not losing focus. We honestly played our best ball in the back half of the season and need to remember our strengths as a team and take care of business."
The Lady Panthers won the first game of the play-in series against Aubrey with six homers hit by five different players. During district play, the Lady Panthers had lost to Celina on both occasions. But each of those games had been one-run losses. One of the most challenging feats in sports is to defeat a team three times in a season, and that mantra fit as the Lady Panthers pulled out a 10-7 victory. This win secured the team the second place seed in the playoffs.
Freshman Taylor Roberts picked up the win as the pitcher. She pitched seven innings, allowing nine hits and seven runs and striking out seven batters. Jenna Pharr, Kylie Allen, and Tess Cutler tallied multiple hits, and Kelsie Adams added a home run.
The Lady Panthers faced off with Ferris in the first round of the playoffs. The Lady Panthers would play a series with the Lady Jackets with the team that won two games advancing. Coach Brogdon spoke of the benefit of playing a series, "Playing a series puts us in a situation to where if you have a bad game and lose to a team you shouldn't, there is a chance to rectify the issues."
The Lady Panthers won game one of the series with a 3-1 victory. Kelsie Adams was superb on the mound, only allowing five hits and one run over seven innings. Sydney Sullivan was 2-3 from the plate with crucial hits, and Tess Cutler added a home run.
The Lady Panthers dropped game two 3-4, pushing it to a deciding game three. In game three of the series, the Lady Panthers took care of business with a 4-0 victory. Taylor Roberts pitched and came in clutch on a full count to hit a triple, scoring a run in the first inning.
The Lady Panthers picked up the Bi-District championship and advanced to the playoffs' area round for the first time since 2016. They will face Alvarado in a series set to be played at Highland Park this weekend, with game one on Friday, May 7th at 7 p.m. Game two will be played on Saturday at 3 p.m. and if necessary game at 5 p.m..