The McKinleyville Panthers closed an enjoyable and highly-entertaining playoff run in a 3-2 loss at Carlmont in the Bay Area in the NorCal Division-4 softball quarterfinals on Tuesday.
The Panthers led by two runs for much of the game, before the home team scored three late runs to secure a walk-off win.
It was the fifth straight one-run playoff game for the Panthers, three of which ended on a walk-off hit, and it ends an exciting postseason that saw this team win a second straight North Coast Section championship.
“It was a good game, but it was definitely a game we could have won,” head coach Shanna McCracken said.
McKinleyville’s Rebecca Barnett hit a solo home run in the third inning and Allie Egbert drove in Camryn Pinard for the Panthers’ other run after Pinard had walked to reach base.
Taya Gomes, who enjoyed an outstanding postseason, also was 1-for-3.
Raina Ausburn pitched 6.1 innings in the loss and had another impressive outing, allowing just one earned run on four hits and three walks and striking out two.
Ausburn, who will play at Mendocino College next season, and Egbert, who will play at CR, are the team’s only two seniors, although they will be missed.
The talented duo were the Panthers’ top two pitchers.
“I’m very proud of them,” McCracken said of her players. “It’ll definitely be an adjustment next year. Obviously, losing those two seniors will be big shoes to fill.”
In addition to winning the NCS title, the Panthers also placed second in the Big 5 and were the only H-DNL team to defeat Eureka.