With the tying run on first base with no one out in the top of the seventh inning, Paradise senior pitcher Laura Wilson went on the attack.
Wilson worked the ball low and then high, getting three straight City View batters to chase high rise balls for strikeouts. Wilson’s punchout of Makayla Ramirez put an exclamation mark to a 7-6 Class 2A Region II bi-district win for the Lady Panthers Monday in Jacksboro.
“It was fun. I didn’t think they would swing at them though,” Wilson said about the riseball.
“After some of my lower stuff wasn’t working, I went to something else. I can mix around pitches that really aren’t my pitches. I just find a grip and throw something.”
Wilson mixed in enough pitches to strike out 12 City View batters while allowing six runs – three earned – on seven hits with six walks in Paradise’s victory in its first playoff appearance since 2006.
“It’s a big deal,” said Paradise second baseman Laney Campbell. “We haven’t been here in so long. We’re showing that Paradise can step up and win.”
The Lady Panthers move on to play an area-round series against Tom Bean, the District 11-2A champion that is ranked No. 9 in the latest Texas Girls Coaches Association poll. They will play game one Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Lake Dallas. Game two will be 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and game three, if necessary, following.
Paradise coach Karin Essig is proud to see her team get the opportunity to continue after battling to its 21st win of the season. The Lady Panthers are 21-7.
“Our kids had a lot of battles this year,” Essig said. “They’ve fought on the field and off the field. This is an important building block for the rest of their lives.”
Along with solid pitching from Wilson, the Lady Panthers came through with timely hits.
After Paradise stranded the bases loaded in the second, Hannah Eisen came to the plate in the bottom of the third with bases full of Lady Panthers and two outs in a 1-0 game. Down 0-2 in the count, Eisen punched a ball over shortstop into shallow left-center field to score two runs.
Another run came home on a throwing error to make it 4-0 Paradise.
“Hannah’s hit was big,” Essig said. “Since early in the year I’ve said it, you never know who it’s going to be on this team to come through.”
City View answered Paradise’s four-run third with three runs in the fourth. Ramirez’ single to center scored one, and another run came home on a throwing error from the outfield to make it a 4-3 game.
With two out in the fourth and the bags full again, it was Campbell’s turn to come through with the game-deciding hit. She turned on a pitch and crushed a ball over third base that rattled into the left-field corner for a bases-clearing triple. It put the Lady Panthers up 7-3.
“I was just hoping and praying it would come out like I wanted to,” Campbell said. “I thought it was foul. It was close.”
City View did not go away quietly, scoring one in the fifth and two in the sixth to get within a run. The top of the sixth ended with Wilson getting Taylor Stanfill hitting a soft liner to shortstop with runners at second and third.