Jemison softball advances to Troy

For the third consecutive year, the Jemison Panther softball team will be going to Troy for the AHSAA South Central Regionals.

JHS not only notched its milestone 30th win of the season, but also knocked off eventual area champ Marbury for the first time since the 2015 regionals to come within a game of the area title.

To advance to Troy, the Panthers downed Calera twice, but dropped two of three to Marbury to finish runner-up in Class 5A, Area 6.
Head coach Nathan Hayes was pleased with his team’s play at this critical point in the season.  “We hit the ball well, and we generally played good ball, which is what you want going into regionals,” Hayes said.

JEMISON 10, Calera 6

In the opening game of the area playoffs on May 2, the two teams battled to a scoreless tie through the first couple of innings.

In the top half of the third, however, Calera scored four runs on a couple of bloop singles, a pair of bunts, a walk, and an error to take what seemed to be a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Panthers answered right back, though, plating three runs in the bottom half of the frame. Jessica Paschal walked and took second base on a wild pitch, then scored on a one-out single by Hannah Rose Corbin.

Courtesy runner McKenzie Cleckley then scored on a double into center field off the bat of Destiny Bailey.
Bailey closed out the scoring when she crossed the plate on a single by Shelby Crowson.
Corbin and Calera pitcher Ashlynn Hamm shut down the scoring for the next couple of innings, but in the fifth, Jemison tacked on six runs to put the game away.
Corbin led things off with a triple to center field, and Cleckley again scored on a single by Crowson.

After Bailey walked and scored on a Calera error, Emma Allred and Erristen Evans scored on a Kelsey Lowery double.

Lowery then scored after a pair of Eagle errors, and Paschal made the lead 9-4 when she was trapped in a rundown, but eventually stole home.
Jasmine Epperson tacked on another run in the sixth, scoring pinch runner Logan Woodley on a perfectly executed squeeze play to push the lead to six.

Calera managed to score a late run, but it was too little, too late, as the Panthers advanced to the semifinals against Marbury.

MARBURY 5, JEMISON 0

For all the offense that the Panthers displayed in game one, it seemed that the bats went missing against Marbury’s all-state pitcher Layton Murphy.

For seven innings, Jemison could not manage a single hit, falling 5-0 to the tournament host Bulldogs.

Hannah Rose Corbin, who walked and reached on error, and Jessica Paschal, who was hit by a pitch, were the only Jemison batters to reach base safely.
For their part, the JHS pitchers, Kennise Bolton and Corbin, held Marbury at bay with just six hits and three walks, but the lack of offense and a pair of early MHS home runs were enough to send the Panthers back to the loser’s bracket for another showdown with Calera.

JEMISON 9, CALERA 0

For the past three seasons, Jemison and Calera have met in the elimination game of the area tournament with a trip to regionals on the line.

And now, for the third consecutive year, it was Jemison making plans for a trip to Troy while Calera saw their season come to an end.

With a soggy field, a late afternoon start on May 12 and all the pressure of the past few years weighing on their minds, the Panthers played exactly like a team determined not to let a great season go up in flames.
This game was not in doubt for long, as the Panthers spread nine runs evenly across seven innings while Calera did not manage a hit until the sixth inning and finished with just two base hits for the game.
JHS grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Evans blasted a line drive over the right center field fence with Allred aboard.

The Panthers extended the lead to 4-0 in the third, as Paschal scored on a fielder’s choice and Madison Moore raced home on a wild pitch.
The fourth inning saw Jemison plate two runs once again, as Moore scored on a Bailey single and the courtesy runner Cleckley came in before Bailey was tagged out in a rundown between second and third.
The Panthers went up 8-0 in the fifth, thanks to singles from Allred, Jasmine Epperson, Lowery and Paschal, with Allred and Lowery both scoring.

The final nail in the coffin for Calera came in the seventh, when Epperson singled and scored on Paschal’s double over the center fielder’s head.
Corbin went the distance for the win, surrendering just two singles and one walk while striking out seven.
JEMISON 4, MARBURY 2

With game time coming after 9 p.m. on May 12 and facing a pitcher who had just no-hit them three days earlier, the Panthers were wearing down physically and emotionally.

That did not stop JHS from giving Marbury all it wanted in the finals, taking a 4-2 victory to force the “if necessary” game.
Marbury took the early 1-0 lead on a pair of walks and a squeeze bunt, but Jemison answered back when Bolton singled and the Bulldogs mishandled a Charlsie Murphy bunt.

Courtesy runner Logan Woodley and Murphy later scored on two wild pitches in a three pitch span to put the Panthers up 2-1.
A third inning home run by the Bulldogs tied the score at two apiece, and the scored stayed that way until the fifth.

In that inning, Murphy walked and scored on a Paschal double, then Paschal scored on a groundout by Corbin to provide the final margin of victory for JHS.
Corbin picked up the win in relief, going 4.2 innings and striking out five.  The junior pitcher also drew three walks, while four other Panthers had one hit apiece.
“After we struggled with their pitcher on Tuesday [May 9], I thought we did a great job adjusting and competing at the plate” Hayes said.

MARBURY 10, JEMISON 5

The championship game was a real back and forth affair, as there were four ties and three lead changes before Marbury was able to claim the title.
Jemison took its final lead in the top of the third, plating a pair of runs to go up 4-3.  The Bulldogs answered back with two more in their half of the third and added two more in the fifth and three in the sixth to put take the title, despite being outhit by the Panthers by a 12-11 margin.
Corbin paced the offense with two hits and three RBI, while Chloe Eddins, Lowery, and Murphy also had two hits each.
Jemison got admirable pitching performances late in the game from Eddins and Crowson, both ninth graders who were called upon to pitch when Corbin’s pitch count for the day went over 200.
Hayes praised his younger players for their contributions in the final series and throughout the entire tournament.

“We had several starters (Madison Moore, Emma Allred, and Kennise Bolton) who were injured or banged up and we really wanted to protect them with regionals coming up,” Hayes said. “The younger girls that we pulled up from junior varsity for the postseason really stepped up and played at a high level.  That can only help us.  Being able to make a run at regionals requires depth, and I feel like we’ve got that now.”
The Panthers will open regional play at the Troy Sportsplex on May 11 at 3 p.m., as they take on Area 5-5A champion Beauregard.

Win or lose, Jemison will play its second game at 6 p.m. on the same day.

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