Paradise drops district finale to Henrietta, moves into three-way tie for final two playoff spots

By Reece Waddell | Published Friday, April 20, 2018.
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Three weeks ago, the Paradise Lady Panthers making the playoffs would have been a forgone conclusion. Paradise started District 8-3A play on a roll, winning its first six games.

Since then, the Lady Panthers have gone 2-6. They lost six of their last eight games to end the year, including Friday’s regular season finale.

Despite this, Paradise had a shot to claim part of the league title with a win over Henrietta, but a six-run fifth inning doomed the Lady Panthers in a 13-7 loss. Paradise ends the season in a three-way tie with Boyd and Bowie for the final two playoff spots in 8-3A. 

“It’s just kind of surprising,” said Paradise catcher Christina Tipton. “I did not see this coming. I think we kind of found a slump and we couldn’t get out of it.”

The Lady Panthers and Lady Jackets will play the first game of a three-way tiebreaker at 5 p.m. Monday at Henrietta. Boyd eliminated Paradise from playoff contention last year.

The winner will play Bowie immediately after at 7:30.

If Bowie wins the second game, the Lady Rabbits and the winner of the Boyd/Paradise game will be the final two teams in the playoffs out of 8-3A. If Bowie loses, they will play the loser of the Boyd/Paradise game at 5 p.m. Tuesday for the final playoff spot.

“We’ve had a lot of tough ones,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “All of our losses in district except to [Henrietta] were by one run. Hopefully you learn something from it.”

Henrietta got on the board in the first inning on the back of a two-run home run, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. But the Lady Panthers quickly responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.

The two sides exchanged runs again in the third inning and entered the top of the fifth knotted at three. 

Starter Kendall Candioto gave up a lead-off single and then walked the bases loaded. With no one out, the Lady Bearcats broke the deadlock with a two-RBI single to center. Candioto then surrendered a sacrifice fly before being pulled after four and one-thirds innings.

Kailey Thomas entered in relief, scattering six runs on five hits in two and two-thirds innings.

“We just gave up too many runs,” Essig said. “We don’t normally give up runs like that.”

Candioto was coming off a lengthy outing Tuesday where she threw 13 and one-thirds innings and 238 pitches in a 3-2 loss to City View in 14 innings.

“She’s tough,” Tipton said. “She’s a rock. That’s what I love about her. She knows when to stay strong for the team.”

Paradise and Boyd split the season series this year. The Lady Panthers took the first game at Boyd 6-5. The Lady Jackets beat Paradise 2-1 in nine innings last Friday.

“We have a lot of goals, and now we have another one,” Tipton said. “We have to push through and just be there for each other. Resiliency. That’s our thing. [We] have to stay strong.”

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