Panthers Get A HBP Walk-off22:11 PM May 16, 2018
The EP Panther softball team took on Hall for the third time this season on Wednesday at the Mendota Regional and came away with a rather peculiar walk-off win. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 7th, senior Hannah Kolling was hit by a pitch which forced in the winning run advancing the Panthers to the regional title game against Mendota on Saturday.
The two teams had split the regular season series in very differing fashion. The Red Devils won the first meeting 13-11 in Hall, but the Panthers prevailed three days later in Prophetstown 2-1. The third game was as close as the others, but the dramatic ending was a new twist.
The Panthers fell behind early as Hall plated 3 runs in the top of the 4th with a combination of 2 walks, 2 singles and a sacrifice fly. Pitcher Calisa Steel threw down the gauntlet after that allowing only one base runner the rest of the game. EP did not have a base runner until the bottom of the 4th when Hannah Kolling was stranded after hitting a double.
The Panthers finally replaced the 0 on the board in the bottom of the 5th after Addy Scott reached on an error and was driven in by Skylar Steimle's base hit to make it 3-1.
EP got within a run in the 6th after Kolling led off with a triple and was brought in by Erica Thulen's deep sacrifice fly making it 3-2.
Scott led off the 7th with a base hit followed by a Steimle base knock to drive in Scott with the tying run. Steimle then stole second and was moved to third by a sacrifice bunt courtesy of Dena Johnson. Steel then walked and pinch hitter Sophie Sullivan dropped a bunt single to load the bases, which set up the painful heroics by Kolling.
Coach Roger Ellerbrock said that his team hit the ball well all night, but unfortunately early on they all found Hall gloves. On a gamble Hall replaced their starting pitcher in the 5th inning with a freshman thrower in hopes of throwing off the Panthers timing. The gamble did not pay off as EP rattled her in the late innings to get the win.
EP (17-9) will play the host school, Mendota (19-9) on Saturday morning at 11:00 for the regional title. Ellerbrock says the teams are evenly matched and hope his Panthers can gab their first regional title in 18 years.