Panther pitcher

Alexis Valdez fires in a pitch during last week’s area playoff series against Beeville Jones. Valdez accounted for two of the wins pitching for the Lady Panthers.

As would be expected when your team comes up against the regional champions from last year, the Navarro Lady Panthers were in a fight last weekend in the area championship against Beeville Jones. 

The three game series was highlighted by back-to-back one run games in the final two of the series.

The Panthers got the game one win 6-3, before contesting the two highly competitive games Friday and Saturday.

The Panthers trailed in the seventh inning on Friday, 7-5, when the rains hit and the game was halted for a Saturday finish.

“We led off with a home run in the bottom of seventh to cut it to 7-6,” head coach Darrell Harborth said. “We loaded the bases after that with a chance to tie or win it right there - but we just couldn’t quite get it done.”

That led to the game three decider, with the Panthers taking an early 1-0 lead, only to see Beeville come back and take the lead at 2-1.

But good pitching held the Lady Trojans scoreless for the next few innings, and the Panthers built a 5-2 lead going into the seventh inning, getting two runs each in the fourth and fifth innings.

But Beeville wasn’t done, coming back with two runs of their own in the seventh, before leaving the tying run stranded at second base.

Pitcher Alexis Valdez got the win and was the workhorse of the series for the Panthers, getting the wins in both game one and three.

“They struggled to get hits off of her, so she did an outstanding job pitching,” Harborth said.

Sydnie Booker powered the offense, collecting seven hits and driving in five runs over the three games. Valdez drove in three in the game two loss.

“Sydnie has some huge hits for us over the series, she drove the ball really well,” Harborth said. “But it was just a combined effort of a whole lot of people in the lineup.

“Somewhere it was just somebody would end up getting a huge hit, and it just shows how strong we are throughout our lineup.”

Going through last year’s regional champion to get to the next round was a big step for the Lady Panthers this year.

“It’s very exciting,” Harborth said. “Getting game one was huge part and gave us a little confidence going into the next two games.

“We played really solid ball there, and did just enough to be able to hold on to the end. We have a lot of seniors this year, so I guess our experience paid off.”

The two wins put the Lady Panthers at 30-9 on the year, going into the regional quarterfinal matchup with Zapata. Game one is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. at Three Rivers High School in Three Rivers.

“Everybody at this point in the season, that has made it this far is good,” Harborth said. “They have a good pitcher, who held a really good Rockport-Fulton team scoreless, 1-0, in a one-game series.

“If we can get to her, I think our defense and pitching can keep them down. If we can get some runs on the board, it should be alright.” 

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