SPORTS HEADLINES

Softball: Tied up – Paradise drops season finale to Henrietta

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, April 25, 2018
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CLOSE PLAY – Paradise third baseman Kailey Thomas applies a tag to a Henrietta baserunner during last Friday’s 13-7 loss. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

Riding a six-game winning streak in District 8-3A, making the playoffs would have been a forgone conclusion for the Paradise Lady Panthers three weeks ago.

Since then, the Lady Panthers are 2-6, including last Friday’s 13-7 loss to Henrietta regular season finale.

Paradise ended 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 played the first game of a three-way tiebreaker at 5 p.m. Monday at Henrietta. The winner played Bowie immediately after at 7:30.

If Bowie won 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 lost, it will play the loser of the Boyd/Paradise game at 5 p.m. Tuesday for the final playoff spot.

Boyd eliminated Paradise from playoff contention last year. 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 two weeks ago.

“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.”

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. The Lady Bearcats broke the deadlock with a two-run single to center. Candioto surrendered a sacrifice fly before being pulled after four and one-third innings.

“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.”

Kailey Thomas entered in relief, scattering six runs on five hits in two and two-third innings. Henrietta collected 11 hits in the victory.

“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 last Tuesday where she threw 13 and one-third innings and 238 pitches in a 3-2 loss to City View in 14 innings. She threw 102 pitches against the Lady Bearcats, striking out seven and walking three.

“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.”

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