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Panthers' rally falls just short

May 18, 2004|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - Losing is never very palatable to coaches, but for Hancock softball coach Heather Creek, her team's 4-2 loss to Beall in the Class 1A West quarterfinals was actually bittersweet.

Bitter because this game marked the second year in a row that the Mountaineers derailed Hancock's playoff aspirations, but sweet in that the Panthers played their signature style of late-inning heroics before Beall (14-2) got off the hook.

Beall shortstop Kacey Kahl drove two triples off the fence early, plating two of the Mountaineers' four runs through four innings before they held off Hancock (13-6).

The Panthers scored two runs with two out in the bottom of the seventh, but with runners on the corners, Beall pitcher Katie Rephann coaxed Jenna Demory into a popout to second to end the game.

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Hancock won four games this season in their last at-bat, but a fifth wasn't in the cards.

"We had been there before, so why not this time?" Creek asked. "They knew what had to be done. But you can't wait that long in a big game to hit the ball and make something happen. I can't fault them for their heart, but we needed to get rolling a lot earlier."

Rephann scattered six hits and allowed just two runners to reach second through six innings.

Although Rephann struck out only two Panthers all day, she was able to stay ahead of Hancock, mixing a fastball with off-speed drops and risers.

"She mixed it up well, but it's not like we haven't seen it before," Creek said. "We got a little impatient at the plate, but stayed focused."

In the seventh, Hancock came alive and got to Rephann. Kris Creek walked with one out and Katie Golden reached on an error. Jenae Trail walked on a full count to load the bases.

Then the Panthers suffered a bad break. Adrienne Kesecker hit a bouncer between first and second to apparently score two runs, but the umpire ruled the ball hit Trail. Trail was out and the runs were erased, but the bases remained loaded.

Rephann then walked Ashley Creek, scoring the Panthers' first run. Aimee Barton's infield single scored Golden before Rephann retired the final batter to notch the win.

"It's been a long season for us with injuries and the rain," Creek said. "But they never quit in any game. We want teams to know we will play it out."

Kesecker had two hits for Hancock. Kahl led Beall with two hits.

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