Softball: Paradise belts way to win – Lady Panthers hit 3 HRs in 8-3A opener

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, March 10, 2018
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Going Yard

GOING YARD – Paradise’s Kaycee Martin is greeted by the Lady Panthers at home plate after hitting a home run. Messenger photo by Reece Waddell.

It did not take long for Paradise’s offense to get going in the Lady Panthers’ District 8-3A opener Tuesday night.

After scratching across two runs in the first inning, Kaycee Martin went deep in the top of the fourth to extend Paradise’s advantage. Then in the fifth inning, the Lady Panthers blew the game open.

The Lady Panthers batted around and scored seven runs with two outs in the top of the inning en route to a 13-7 victory over Jacksboro.

Kendall Candioto cranked a three-run shot over the center field wall and Makenna Hudson also hit a homer in the frame.

“I was happy with their bats,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “They hit the ball well. It’s a big [win]. [Jacksboro] beat us the second time we played them last year, so my kids wanted to come out and play well. We started the game hot and took a little pressure off ourselves.”

Paradise improved to 9-3 overall with the league-opening win.

Paradise held a 13-2 advantage going into the bottom of the fifth. Jacksboro tried to get back in the game.

After pitching three scoreless innings, Candioto surrendered a two-run home run in the fourth inning when she left a pitch over the middle of the plate.

“I needed to get her to swing, and I threw it, and [the pitch] didn’t really move,” Candioto said. “Not enough [movement] or speed. Just an awful pitch, really.”

In the sixth and seventh innings, Candioto had to work around more trouble.

Jacksboro stranded runners at second and third in the sixth inning and then loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, chasing Candioto from the circle. Essig went to the bullpen, inserting Kailey Thomas to finish the game.

After giving up two runs on an RBI-single and error, Thomas struck out two batters and eventually induced a ground ball to seal the victory for Paradise.

“[Candioto] had a great first four innings,” Essig said. “The great thing about us is we have two really good pitchers. Thomas had two big strikeouts with the bases loaded.

“Different people had to step up in different ways, and I think they did it in the end. The lesson there is stay focused and finish. I really felt like it was a total team effort and I think the kids did, too.”

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