COAHOMA For the first time in program history, the Permian Lady Panthers are advancing to the Region I-6A Semifinals.
With their backs against the wall, the Lady Panthers defeated the Abilene High Lady Eagles 13-4 in Game 3 of the best-of-3 regional quarterfinal series Saturday afternoon at Coahoma High School.
The Lady Panthers defeated Abilene 2-0 in Game 2 behind a solid complete-game outing by Alexis Morales, who struck out five batters, while allowing three hits. Morales retired 13 batters in a row to help her team win Game 2.
Permian plays Plano in the regional semifinals. The time, date and site have yet to be determined.
It was a battle for both teams, having to fight through the scorching temperature on the hot turf. Permian came out with lots of intensity in Game 3 as it took an 8-0 lead in the top of the first.
“I just want to cry for these girls,” Permian head coach Kristin Williams said. “They did a great job. Making history was our number one goal and our next one is to come.
“We’re excited. We tried to keep them as hydrated as we can. I think that we come out here ready, but we’re not mentally prepared for what is up against us, and we come and see what we need to do and then they dominate on that.”
Permian (33-4) came out in Game 3 with the intensity they needed. In the top of the first inning, Hunter Harkrider delivered a two-run home run. Shadie Davis followed up with a solo home run.
Hannah Banker cleared the bases with a three-RBI triple in the big rally. The Lady Panthers tallied seven hits in the inning, while they sent 12 batters to the plate.
The Lady Panthers added two more runs in the top of the fourth on a pair of RBI singles by Audrey Garcia and Monique Pando, which made the score 10-0.
Abilene High finally got on the board in the fourth after Alyssa Washington drove in a run on a single.
Harkrider drove in her third run in the top of the fifth on a triple. Rylee Day then hit an RBI groundout to plate home a run to extend Permian’s lead to 12-1.
The Lady Eagles loaded up the bases in the bottom of the fifth. Sydnee Killam drew an RBI walk, while Washington delivered a two-RBI single to cut the deficit to eight runs.
Permian managed to tack on one more run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Day.
Five Lady Panthers tallied multiple hits. Banker finished 3 for 5 with two singles, a triple and three RBIs. In Game 2, she had a clutch solo homer in the first inning.
“We’re very excited as a team, and we just made history,” Banker said. “We really don’t know how to feel right now. Everybody’s beyond excited. It felt great.
“We feel like we have power now. We have an amazing team and we have some really good sticks.”
Harkrider went 3 for 5 with a single, triple, homer and three RBIs, while Aliyah Lara finished 3 for 4 with two singles, a double and an RBI.
Garcia had two singles, a walk and an RBI to go 2 for 3. Brianna Dominguez finished 2 for 4 with two singles and an RBI.
Morales endured a lot after pitching a gem in Game 2. She had to reenter Game 3 after being pulled in the fifth inning.
“I’m excited for what’s in store next,” Morales said. “I’m looking forward to what this week brings us after this big win. There are a lot of positive things in the dugout.
“I have a really good curveball, so I guess that pretty much settled it down. We took what we learned yesterday with the batters and put it into work today.”
For the third straight round, Permian won another series in three games. It seems to be helping the Lady Panthers become mentally stronger.
“The more we play, the better we get,” Williams said. “I’m glad that we’re playing the three games now because it’s making us better. I have all the confidence in my girls.”