By Ray Hamill — After coming up just short in an exciting showdown against Del Norte on Thursday, the McKinleyville Panthers will try to keep their Big 5 championship hopes alive when they travel to Crescent City for a crucial softball doubleheader on Saturday.
A clutch bases-clearing double from Del Norte’s Khloe Smith lifted the Warriors to a dramatic 4-3 win in the series opener at McKinleyville.
And while the end result was a disappointing one for the Mack girls, it certainly wasn’t all bad.
Senior Camryn Pinard continued to impress on both sides of the ball for the Panthers.
Pinard hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning and finished 2-for-3, while also making several big plays at shortstop.
Right fielder Mashell Stumpf also had a good day offensively and defensively, finishing 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and making some key catches for outs.
“She’s been reading the ball really well,” McCracken said of the junior standout, who has taken on a much bigger role with the team this spring.
Catcher Taya Gomes also had a good game, finishing 2-for-4 and adding a reliable presence behind the plate, while teammate Rebecca Barnett was 1-for-3 with a double and Liana Stumpf was 1-for-2.
Freshman pitcher McKennah Sargent got plenty of help from a strong team defensive performance, as the Panthers gave up just one run through the opening six innings.
With the loss, the Panthers dropped to 4-3 in the Big 5 and they trail both Del Norte (4-0) and Eureka (5-1) in the standings.
Saturday’s doubleheader begins at 11 a.m.