Strong season for Panthers ends in playoffs

By TAYLOR HAWKINS,

The Panthers of Yazoo County fell in back-to-back games to Nettleton in as many days, ending their season in the second round of the playoffs.

Yazoo County head coach Corbin Ellis had a plan that he felt was crucial to defeating such a difficult opponent.

They had to split with the talented Nettleton starting duo.

“Going in we knew we had to at least get a split in the first two games,” Ellis said. “They had two really good pitchers that usually go the distance in games and throw a lot of off-speed stuff.”

In the early portion of game one, it seemed like they might do just that.

The Panthers started the game white hot behind a quick inning by Dylan Parker, and that carried over to the bottom of the inning, where they scored three runs to take an early 3-0 lead.

Nettleton first got on the board with a run in the second inning to cut the Panthers’ lead to 3-1.

The Tigers continued with their newfound momentum in the top of the third inning with three more runs to give them a 4-3 lead.

But in the bottom of the inning, the Panthers tied it right back up at 4-4.

After a scoreless fourth inning, Nettleton picked back up where they left off, scoring two runs in the top of the fifth inning to allow them to regain a 6-4 lead

Yazoo County countered with a run in the bottom of the inning to bring them within one run of Nettleton at 6-5.

Unfortunately, that’s where things took a downward turn for the Panthers.

The Tigers scored one run in the sixth inning and six in the seventh inning to take the game 13-5.

In the end, the Panthers couldn’t overcome their own errors, even with a good performance from their starting pitcher.

“We had too many errors that led to their runs.  My guys played hard and fought until the end, but in the end, we just could not overcome our mistakes. Dylan Parker did his job on the mound getting them to hit pop ups and ground balls. We just struggled keeping our focus on defense.”

Dylan Parker was given the loss in the contest despite only giving up two earned runs (four runs total) on five hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

Trevor Leal went 1-for-4 at the plate with a double and two runs scored.

Ben Luckett went 1-for-3 with two runs scored.

Kobe Fisher had a 1-for-3 game with an RBI.

Peyton Thrasher went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Andrew Edwards also scored a run in the loss.

In game number two on Saturday, the Panthers came out fighting.

The first inning passed without a score.

Then the second inning passed.

Then the third inning passed.

Trevor Leal was dominant on the mound for the Panthers, and Davis Oswalt was the same for the Tigers.

An error on the part of Yazoo County led to the Tigers’ first run of the game in the fourth inning to make it 1-0, but the Panthers came right back out with a clean fifth inning.

In the sixth inning, Nettleton finally had the burst of offense that has become their trademark this season with a five-run output, making it a 6-0 game.

Yazoo County had one final opportunity to break through in the seventh inning, but they were unable to do so, making the 6-0 score the final and ending the season for Yazoo County.

Leal went 5.1 innings on the mound, giving up two runs (0 ER) on three hits with one strikeout in the loss. Leal also went 1-for-3 at the plate with a double.

Dontrell Green had a double in the loss, while Peyton Thrasher had a single.

All Ellis felt after the game was pride in his team.

“The proudest moment was all the compliments we received from the Nettleton fan base and coaches,” Ellis said. “Having the opposing team's fans and coaches compliment you on how you play the game and how respectful your players are means a lot. It means you're doing something right and it's not necessarily always about baseball. Combine the heart we showed on the field with the compliments we received makes me even more proud to be a part of the Yazoo County family.”

The Panthers finished the season with a 13-8 overall record, a district championship, and a second-round playoff appearance.

It was a magical season for Yazoo County.

But Ellis isn’t sitting on his laurels and reminiscing about the season that has now passed.

He expects even better next year.

“We will enjoy the season we had and be ready to re-load and go even further next season,” Ellis said.