By Jay Young
PANAMA - When the Brocton Lady Bulldogs met Panama during the regular season they lost both games by a combined three runs, but history was not to be repeated on Thursday afternoon.
Brocton’s Jess Delcamp slides safely into home before Panama’s Madalyn Bowen can make the tag during Thursday’s Section 6 Class D semifinal softball game. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J?photo by Jay Young
The visiting No. 4 Lady Bulldogs (7-8) broke their streak against the No. 1 Lady Panthers (9-8) in convincing fashion and took home a 10-1 Section 6 Class D semifinal victory Thursday.
Jess Putcher hurled Brocton to the upset win from the circle, tossing a complete game two-hitter with 10 strikeouts and two walks. While the Lady Bulldogs have been able to rely on their pitching throughout the season, it was their offense that set the tone yesterday.
After scoring four runs in each of its first two games against the Lady Panthers, Brocton got the bats fired up with elimination on the line and hammered 16 hits.
"I didn't (expect that). We haven't hit the ball like that all year, and everybody hit the ball," said Brocton coach Jeff Franze. "Even the bunts, too. The bunts were down. Base-running was very good today. They just did the little things right and finally we got some timely hits, and we knew we had to hit the ball because their pitchers don't walk batters, and I think that the kids knew that ahead of time. We seem to be gelling at the right time."
Junior captain Jess Merle proved to be the catalyst for Brocton's offensive push, as she sent home Brooke Kuschel with a deep triple for the first run of the day.
"Merle's hits today were unbelievable, great hitting," said Franze.
Sarah Osborne started her day out well on the mound for Panama despite Merle's hot bat. The junior collected three of her four total strikeouts in the first two innings and walked just two on the day before being relieved by Carly Abbate.
See SOFTBALL, Page B2
From Page B1
Unfortunately for the Lady Panthers, three fielding errors proved costly on a day when Brocton was already riding high with confidence.
"We beat them both times (in the regular season) but they were both close games, 5-4 and 6-4. I knew it was going to be a tough game, but I would have hoped it would have been closer," said Panama coach Tammy Hosier.
After the Lady Bulldogs were able to pick up their early lead in the first inning, some nice base-running by Jess Delcamp made it 2-0 after she smacked a single, stole second, and then beat a throw to home on Abigail Van Hout's single.
Then the floodgates opened up in the top of the third when Merle slapped another deep shot for a double and Morgan Bennett went to first on an error. Merle was able to scamper home on a passed ball while Bennett scored on a single by Delcamp.
After giving up four runs in three innings Osborne gave way to Abbate on the mound, and the Lady Bulldogs opened up the fourth with a single by Kuschel and an RBI single from Bennett to make it 5-0.
Brocton then pushed home its final five runs with five hits in the fifth, including an RBI single from Kuschel, an RBI single by Merle, a two-RBI double from Bennett, and an RBI double by Jenna Jusko.
Meanwhile, Putcher continued to stymie Panama hitters with diving offspeed pitches. The Lady Panthers lone run of the day came on a sacrifice fly by Elle Angeletti in the bottom of the fifth.
"She was very solid today,'' Franze said. ''She has the changeup and she needs that changeup. (She was) very solid. I've had her for five years now that she's pitched for me, and she seems to be coming around at the right time. We have another good pitcher, too, and we didn't have to use her today.''
Now the Lady Bulldogs will face one more test before they can call themselves sectional champions. They will meet the winner of today's game between No. 2 Pine Valley and No. 3 Forestville on Tuesday.
"You know both teams are tough,'' Franze said. ''That league was exceptional this year. So we are expecting a very tough game on Tuesday. We'll have to play this type of game.''