CENTER, Mo. | The Palmyra Panthers defeated a resilient Mark Twain Tigers softball team 13-8 on Thursday in Center.
It looked like it may be a blowout after Palmyra put up five runs in the first inning. However, Mark Twain was able to scratch and claw back into the game as it went on.
Palmyra head coach Alexis Van Nostrand said her team learned not to take an opponent for granted because of their record in past years.
“They stayed in it,” Van Nostrand said. “He did a really good job of keeping the (Mark Twain) players in the game.”
After both teams failed to score in the second inning, Palmyra got a rally going in the third inning. The Panthers put up a couple of runs off of a RBI double from Kennedy Wilson scored Jansen Juette and a Sophie Hoerr RBI singled scored Wilson, giving Palmyra a 7-1 lead going into the bottom of the third.
The Tigers had a bases loaded, no out start to the third inning, with starting pitcher Molly Hill drawing a walk that forced home a run with one out. However, Mark Twain was unable score any more runs in the frame.
The Panthers added a couple of runs in the fifth inning, when an Abbey Reid infield single drove home Hoerr and Sophie Ragar stealing home on a double steal.
Mark Twain entered the bottom of the fifth inning down seven runs and started chipping away at the lead. Hill came through with an RBI single that scored Hill, followed by a Elizabeth Trower RBI single that scored Emily Evans.
Tigers sophomore Audrey Ross then hit a double that scored Trower and Madison Epperson, which knocked Palmyra starting pitcher Lydia Althoff out of the game after 4.2 innings pitched.
Mark Twain head coach Ross Parcel said his team was finally able to get that big hit with runners on that his team was unable to do in the first two games.
“We stressed having an approach at the plate and knowing what to look for,” Parcel said. “We knew both pitchers had really good fastballs and we wanted to sit on those fastballs and adjust when we got later in counts.”
Van Nostrand would put Jazlin Gottman in relief to replace Althoff. The first batter Gottman faced was Tigers junior Autumn Arndt, who hit a two-run home run to bring Mark Twain within one run.
“I called Audrey Ross over and told her I was excited because she was going to get this big hit for us and get us back in the game and she rips the ball for a two-run hit on the next pitch,” Parcel said. “I called the next batter, Autumn Arndt, over and told her she was going to see this first pitch fastball and park it and she did.”
With Palmyra holding on to a 9-8 lead going into the top of the sixth inning, the Panthers were able to get another rally going. Gottman drew a leadoff walk, which was followed by a home run from Wilson. Later in the inning, Hannah Mitchell would hit a single that scored Hailey Kroeger and Hoerr, giving the Panthers a five-run lead.
Gottman would settle down in her final two innings of relief, retiring the last six batters she faced in order.
“(Mark Twain) fought the whole game and we let them stay with us until the sixth inning,” Van Nostrand said. “It should had never been like that, but it was. I'm proud of my girls for coming back in the sixth inning.”
Prior to the game, the Tigers held senior night to recognize Trower, Emma Clarkson, Hill, Emma Boleach and Syndee Brothers.
Parcel said he saw some bright spots in Thursday's loss, such as improved defensive play and hitting with runners in scoring position.
“We've been talking about how we want to compete against good teams and we want to show well,” Parcel said. “Especially on senior night in front of this huge crowd tonight. Give them something to look forward to and … we took a step in the right direction tonight.”
The Tigers fall to 0-3, while the Panthers move to 3-2 after Thursday's game.
Mark Twain will play next on Tuesday, Sept. 8 at Montgomery County. Palmyra will play next on Thursday, Sept. 10 at Monroe City.