SOFTBALL ROUNDUP — Loggers, Panthers win their Big 5 openers

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Eureka’s Kira Morris got the win in the circle at Arcata on Wednesday.

The Eureka Loggers began the defense of their league title with a victory at Arcata on Wednesday, beating the Tigers 9-5.

Also in action on opening day, the McKinleyville Panthers won a thriller at Fortuna, rallying late with five unanswered runs on the way to a 13-12 win.

The loss was the first of the season for the Huskies, who dropped to 0-1 in league and 6-1 on the season.

Both the Panthers and Huskies played well at the plate with some clutch hitting, but both teams also suffered from a lack of outdoor practice recently with six errors each.

Freshman pitcher McKennah Sargent was instrumental in the win, crushing a two-run home run in the top of the seventh to highlight the late comeback and following that with a clutch performance in the circle in the bottom half of the inning.

Sargent, who struck out five and walked just one batter, stranded the potential trying run at second to close out the game after the Huskies had scored a run to pull within one.

The McKinleyville girls have made a habit of winning close games in recent years and that proved to be the case once again on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what it is about this team, but they definitely play better with their backs to the wall,” McKinleyville head coach Shanna McCracken said.

“We definitely have work to do, but it was kind of a grind-it-out win. I was very proud of them for not giving up.”

Camryn Pinard and Bailee Box each had three hits in the win, including a double by Pinard, as the Panthers improved to 1-0 in the Big 5 and 6-1 overall.

Sargent also had two hits, including her game-winning home run, while catcher Taya Gomes impressed on both sides of the plate and finished with a pair of doubles.

The Huskies also had plenty of offense.

Kylee Fennell and Zoe Dewberry each finished with three hits, while Isabel Sanchez had two hits and three RBIs and Kadence Mace had a double and drove in three runs.

Fennell, Dewberry, Sanchez, Faith Helms and Mariah Bravo each also had a double as the Fortuna bats racked up 15 hits in a game that featured several lead changes.

Liana Stumpf and Liz Mengel each also played well for McKinleyville, who are missing a couple of starters right now because of injury.

Eureka 9, Arcata 5

The Loggers scored five runs in the third inning and held on for the league-opening win.

Kira Morris got the win in the circle, as the Eureka girls improved to 1-0 in the Big 5 and 4-3 overall.

Taylor Appy led the Arcata offense and had a big RBI double in the third to keep her team in the game, as well as scoring two of her team’s runs.

The Tigers rallied to score a pair of runs in the fifth to pull within three, before the visitors added a late insurance run and held on down the stretch.

“We didn’t string a whole lot together offensively,” Arcata head coach Steve Sarchett said.

Morgan Ford took the loss in the circle despite a solid performance, but she got little help from a young defense that committed some costly early errors.

“She did a good enough job to win, we just didn’t play the defense behind her,” Sarchett said, adding that the defeat will be a learning experience for his young roster.

Ford struck out five Eureka batters.

No stats were immediately available for the Loggers.


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