ABILENE Relentlessness is one quality that the Permian Lady Panthers exhibited throughout their historic 33-6 campaign.
After capturing the District 2-6A title, Permian had to fight its way through the playoffs to land in the regional semifinals for the first time in program history.
That magical run came to an end in the fourth round.
The Plano Wildcats defeated Permian 12-5 in Game 2 to earn the sweep Friday night at Abilene Christian University’s Wells Field. Plano awaits Keller in the regional finals.
The three Permian seniors — Brianna Dominguez, Alexis Morales and Kam Martinez — played a huge role in building the program.
“Honestly, I’ve never been more proud and more grateful to be able to say I’m a part of this team,” Dominguez said. “We made history. We learned lessons from what we needed to do, we had a great season … best season that Permian’s ever had.
“I’m thankful to be a part of that. One thing that we’ve had to learn is (to) never give up. Every time we come into a series we ended up playing three games, so we’d learned from that, and we learned that we always have to fight back. We never gave up and I’m proud.”
Plano (25-4) took a 6-0 lead after three innings. The Lady Panthers cut the deficit in half when Hunter Harkrider hit a two-RBI inside-the-park home run to spark a three-run rally in the fourth inning.
Plano scored five runs in the final two innings to secure the series sweep. The Wildcats outhit Permian 14-8.
Rhoden finished 2 for 4 with a single, home run and four RBIs for Plano, while McNeil finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. McNeil went 3 for 4 with a single, double, home run and an RBI.
Dominguez led the Lady Panthers going 2 for 4 with two singles. Audrey Garcia finished 2 for 3 with two singles and an RBI. Rylee Day and Aliyah Lara each went 1 for 3 with a single.
Next year, the Lady Panthers will have a majority of their starters coming back. There’s no doubt that they can go deep in the playoffs again.
“Next year’s going to be different. We’re going to have different pitching, but I still believe in us and I still believe we can make it far again,” Permian junior catcher Hannah Banker said. “No matter what the situation was we never gave up and we were always ready to fight, no matter what happened.
“This was an amazing feeling. I would not want to play for anybody else.”
Jaycee Morales, a freshman pitcher, had to come in to relieve her sister, Alexis. Jaycee threw 5.1 innings allowing 11 hits and five earned runs with two strikeouts.
Although her line might not be impressive to some, she had to step up in a tough situation on a big stage. The freshman has a bright future.
“Our two and three pitchers this year will be our one and two pitchers next year, and we’ve got a lot to bring,” Permian head coach Kristin Williams said. “That JV pitcher (Jaycee Morales) stepped up this year and threw the rest of that game.
“We know we’ve got the pitching, we got the bats, let’s go for it again.”
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