Jemison softball builds momentum after invitational

Published 4:34 pm Monday, February 29, 2016

For the third consecutive season, the Jemison Panthers softball team traveled to the Homewood Invitational and came away with an impressive showing against some of the larger schools in central Alabama.

Jemison, in Class 5A, posted a 3-1 record playing exclusively teams from the Class 6A and 7A levels in the tournament.

The Panthers had gone undefeated in the same invitational the past two seasons.

Jemison opened up the invitational with a 3-1 victory over John Carroll, as the Panthers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning with a leadoff double by Kelson Cole.

Cole was sacrificed to third by Charlsie Murphy, and then scored on an infield ground ball off the bat of Dara Harris.

After John Carroll tied the score in the top of the fifth inning, Jemison answered back with two runs in the bottom of the frame.

Jasmine Epperson put the Panthers back on top after she singled and scored on a Hannah Corbin base hit.

Corbin later crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice and gave the Panthers the final winning margin.

Epperson led Jemison with two hits in the game, while Kennise Bolton picked up the win on the mound by scattering five hits while striking out six and surrendering one unearned run.

During the second contest on Feb. 26, Corbin dominated on the mound in Jemison’s win over Class 7A Mountain Brook, giving up just one hit and striking out 12, as the Panthers shut out the Spartans 5-0.

Jemison took a first-inning lead after a Jessica Paschal triple was quickly followed up by an Epperson infield grounder that plated Paschal.

The lead remained at one until the third inning, when Epperson ripped a triple of her own and scored on a sacrifice fly by Corbin.

Later in the inning, Destiny Bailey reached on an infield error and raced home on a wild pitch to give the Panthers a 3-0 advantage.

A couple of insurance runs were added in the fourth inning, as Bailey drove a two-run single to right field to end the scoring for the night.

The Panthers received another pitching gem Feb. 27, as Bolton fired a no-hitter against Briarwood, but had to survive three fielding errors by the Jemison defense to pull out the 2-1 win.

Briarwood jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a pair of infield errors, but Jemison got out of the inning without further damage when catcher Madison Moore gunned down an attempted steal of second base.

The Panthers’ bats did not get going until the third inning, when Jemison took full advantage and pushed across a pair of runs.

Bolton went all the way to second base on an error by the Briarwood shortstop, and scored on a single by Paschal.

Paschal eventually came home on an Epperson infield grounder, for what proved to be the game-winning run.

Paschal and Murphy recorded Jemison’s only two hits of the game, but aggressive base running by the Panthers and Bolton’s performance on the mound were enough to secure the victory.

Bolton finished the game with seven strikeouts and three walks.

Jemison was unable to finish the invitational undefeated, as the Panthers fell 7-3 in their final game against Hewitt-Trussville.

The Panthers stood toe-to-toe for most of the game and held a late 2-1 advantage against last year’s Class 7A state semifinalist, before one big inning handed Hewitt-Trussville the victory.

The Huskies jumped out to a 1-0 lead after a dropped fly ball allowed a run to score from second base.

However, Jemison quickly struck back and pushed across two runs in the bottom of the first without the aid of a base hit.

Paschal led off the inning with a hard ground ball to third base that was thrown away at first. After advancing all the way to third on the error, she scored on an Epperson ground ball to shortstop.

Corbin later reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a second error at third base off the bat of Cole.

While the two teams’ pitchers silenced the bats for the next few innings, Hewitt-Trussville finally broke loose in the fourth.

The Huskies benefitted from a pair of walks, two errors and a home run that combined to push across six unearned runs and gave Hewitt-Trussville the lead.

In their last at bat, the Panthers tried to rally back, but could only manage one run when Murphy singled and scored from third when Emma Allred ripped a single back up the middle.

Aside from the singles in the last inning, Cole recorded Jemison’s only other hit throughout the game.

Corbin was tagged with the loss despite tallying six strikeouts, while allowing three hits and three walks.

The Panthers are slated to open area play this week with a Tuesday home game beginning at 4:30 p.m. against Helena before traveling to county-rival Thorsby on Thursday at 5 p.m.