Written and Media by Brianna Anderson and Kearsta Ornellas.
The Lady Panthers Softball Team took a quick weekend-long vacation to Rhodes, Tenn. to play some ball. The team left Thursday afternoon and returned Saturday night. Overall, it was a great trip filled with many memories including singing on the bus, shenanigans in the hotel, but most importantly, playing their first games of the new season.
The Lady Panthers played their first game on Friday against Rhodes College. Junior pitcher Brianna Anderson started the game and pitched a solid four innings. Anderson came out in the fifth inning due to injured ribs from a pre-season accident. Luckily for the Panthers, freshman Cayla Speaks stepped up to the mound. Speaks did a great job finishing the game for her team but took the loss. Offensively, the girls came out with a great start. In just the first inning, senior Andrea Martin and junior Tiffany Samsoe hit singles and got on base just in time for Cassandra Leuking to hit a home run over the center field fence, giving the Panthers an early three run lead! Leuking went on to hit another home run followed by a grand slam in her next two at-bats! Samsoe got a double during her second at-bat and scored on the second Leuking home-run. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Panthers were down 10-9. Junior Shelby Cash tried to get things started with a double, but the fire was short-lived as GC was not able to score any more runs in the inning. The Lady Panthers fell to Rhodes 13-12.
The girls took on Rhodes College again in Game 2. Anderson started off pitching for the second time in the day, but only for two innings. Speaks came in during the third to relieve her and tried to battle back. Rhodes got ahead early and, unfortunately, the Panthers never caught up. The girls started scoring runs in the top of the fifth with Cash and junior Anaya (Tobi) Tobiason both getting on base with singles and then senior Bryn McKie hit a towering home run over the left-center field fence. In the top of the sixth, Leuking hit a double, scoring Samsoe who walked right before her. Tobiason started a hit parade and ended up scoring after Cash and McKie both hit singles, but the parade stopped suddenly. The seventh inning had a promising start with Samsoe hitting a double and later with senior Shannon Elbe hitting a single. Recent transfer Karissa Woody followed Elbe’s hit with a single of her own, but it wasn’t quite enough and the Panthers fell short 10-14.
The Panthers began day two by playing against Oberlin from Ohio. Speaks started off pitching this game and also got to hit. The Lady Panthers got their bats going in the bottom of the second. With Tobiason and Speaks on base, McKie hit a single scoring Tobiason. Martin hit a double, scoring Speaks and McKie. Samsoe then hit a double scoring Martin, giving the Panthers a 4-1 lead. Then in the bottom of the fourth, McKie and Martin both hit doubles and scored in the following plays. Senior Danielle Helms hit a home run in the bottom of the fifth and Leuking hit a double in the seventh and later scored to wrap up the game offensively. The Panthers walked away with heads high, winning 10-5.
For the last Tennessee game, the Lady Panthers took on Rhodes College again. Anderson pitched this game and hit. GC started the game on a good note with Tobiason and Samsoe both hitting doubles and scoring to put the Panthers in the early lead. After a scoreless second inning, Samsoe hit a homerun over the center field fence scoring her and McKie. Unfortunately, Rhodes began hitting, scoring four runs in the bottom of the third and three in the fourth. Martin tried to get the Panthers going with a single to start the fourth and ended up scoring, but she was the only and last run. The girls concluded their game losing 10-5.
The Lady Panthers returned with a lot of work ahead of them after their 1-3 record weekend. They are determined to get a few things ironed out before the next game on March 11 at home against Millikin at 2 and 4 p.m.