SOFTBALL: Bulldogs find no answer for Panthers

Published 9:19 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

NEDERLAND — Kingwood Park played like a district championship team.

Well, the Panthers were one of four that shared the District 21-5A title.

Kingwood Park ended up with the second seed following a tiebreaking tournament and went on to sweep 22-5A third-place Nederland out of the 5A bi-district playoffs in two games. The Panthers built on Thursday’s 12-4 home win and sprayed nine hits over the field in Friday’s 7-2 clinching victory at Nederland.

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Timely hitting doesn’t just describe the Panthers’ style of play, according to Nederland coach Will Mallette.

“It’s that whole district. They all hit like that, all four teams that made it,” he said. “Then, you’ve got the fifth-place team, Crosby, which is also a really good team. That’s the big difference, I think, between their district and our district. You’ve got hitters 1 through 9 on all four teams that can hit it to the fence, put it down to bunt, they’re super aggressive on the bases. Hat’s off to them.”

K-Park (29-8-1) will take on Galena Park, which defeated Houston Waltrip 10-0 in a single game, in the area round. Nederland finished its season at 18-12-2, a year repeating as district champions.

“We brought back four starters from last year, but I lost 10 seniors last year,” Mallette said. “It was really hard to replace the bats in our lineup, but I think we had kids who stepped up into those roles.”

One senior, Hannah Goode, hit .600 in district play, Mallette said.

The four-way tournament in 21-5A saw each team draw a number — 1 or 2 — with the two teams picking the same number playing against each other. The two winners played to determine the top two seeds, and the two losers played for third and fourth seeds. Barbers Hill beat K-Park for the top seed, but the Panthers showed the strength of their district against the Bulldogs.

“We were all ranked in the top 20 in the state coming into the last week,” K-Park coach Sara Koym said. “Great pitching in every program in our district, so we see it every week, which I really think will be to our benefit down the road.”

A victory for the Bulldogs would have forced Game 3 today at their place, and they jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to Destini Trahan’s one-run single and Kristan Traxler’s sacrifice grounder. Nederland had just one other runner in scoring position the rest of the way.

Ronni Grofman went 3 for 4 to lead K-Park. She led off the second inning and scored Mattie McQuary’s two-run single and drove in a run each in the third and fourth innings.

The Panthers opened up a 6-2 lead in the third on three hits. Grofman’s one-run double would cap the scoring.

Still, Trahan struck out eight while going the distance.

McQuary struck out five batters and held Nederland to six hits in a complete-game victory. Brittany Taylor led the Bulldogs batting 2 for 3 with a run score, while Goode (run scored), Alyssa Collazo and Kallye Taylor also hammered singles.

Gretchen Mead, Mikaela Tellez, MacKenzie Purcell, Abbie Forrester and Shelby Rollo each had a hit for K-Park.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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