Lady Panthers blast Brookwood, 12-0

Sep. 1—CHULA — One day after Hurricane idalia, Tiftarea Academy and Brookwood Schools renewed acquaintances of the softball field. Pyper McCard recorded 11 of 12 outs by strikeout at the Lady Panthers won a run-ruled 12-0 game in four innings on Thursday, Sept. 1.

Though many schools were closed in southern Georgia fro the rest of the week, both Brookwood and Tiftarea sustained slight damage and were only out the day of the hurricane itself. Tiftarea head coach Rob Flick said he had toured campus Wednesday after the storm came through and only noticed one small tree down near the field and some netting askew.

"I realized we (softball) were going to be fine," he said.

The Lady Panthers were more than fine once the game began.

McCard's struck out the side in frames 1-3, allowing a mere two baserunners. Brookwood's Audrey Harrison got through the Lady Panthers in order in the 1st, but ran into trouble in every inning after.

Elaine Mercer's leadoff single started the party in the 2nd, soon joined on the bases when Amelia Mercer walked. Raylyn Owens reached when a throw on an infield grounder was wild, scoring the elder Mercer for a 1-0 lead.

Katelyn Brown drove in Amelia Mercer on a single, though Owens was tagged out on a perfect relay from Camille Yarbrough to catcher Morgan Boggs. With Brown at second, Olivia Montford singled up the middle to go up 3-0.

Isabel Fernandez stepped up and what developed was one of the wildest adventures on the bases this year. Fernandez drilled a liner to left and was off to the races. By the time she rounded second, she was only steps behind Montford. The two nearly rounded third simultaneously and Fernandez was within a foot of Montford when completing the inside the park homer.

"I knew she knew the rule," said Flick, but admitted he was a bit worried for a second that Fernandez might accidentally pass Montford for the third out, negating the runs. Thankfully, Fernandez stayed back by a hair and the Lady Panthers were up 5-0 at the end of the 2nd.

A three-base error began Tiftarea's 3rd, with Hannah Grace Murphy the recipient of the miscue, Murphy scored on a wild pitch before Elaine Mercer could double. One batter later, Amelia Mercer made second on an error and Elaine Mercer touched home to make the score 7-0.

Lexi Connell's single made it runners on the corners with no outs, then Owens drove in a run on a fielder's choice. Brown delivered another hit, then she and Owens moved up a base on a wild pitch. Fernandez doubled in both, then became the 11th Lady Panthers run on a base hit by McCard.

Brookwood loaded the bases on McCard in the 4th on singles by Yarbrough and Josey Hollifield and a walk to Harrison. McCard got out of the jam in the usual way, a strikeout. Now Tiftarea only needed one run to walk it off via the run rule.

They didn't waste time.

Elaine Mercer singled and Amelia Mercer walked with no outs. Flick began subbing in younger players and Carley Reese filled with bases with a one-out single. Anything could lead to a run and the Lady Panthers ended the game on a walk to Brown, Elaine Mercer scoring the final run.

Tiftarea had nine hits in the win, two each from Fernandez and Elaine Mercer. Mercer scored three of the 12 runs. McCard was one short of getting all the outs by strikeout. A grounder to Fernandez at short and a throw to Owens at first was the only out in fair territory.

Brookwood had three hits, two by Yarbrough.

The Lady Panthers saw two games called off during the week. Flick said he had not rescheduled either yet. One will have to be played as Deerfield-Windsor is a District 3-AAA opponent. He said he was hopeful of perhaps rescheduling GHSA Class 7A school Valdosta as a doubleheader in Chula. Barring any of those games being made up at the beginning of the week, Tiftarea will next play at Southwest Georgia Academy on Sept. 7.