The host Latta Lady Panthers took advantage of 10 walks and got another strong pitching performance by freshman Matison Worcester in a 7-0 win over Roff Monday evening at Swanson Field.
Latta, ranked No. 4 in Class 2A, improved to 23-5 on the year while the Lady Tigers (No. 10 in Class A) fell to 17-9.
“We did some things wrong we have to correct in the next couple of days, but overall a win’s a win and I’ll take it,” Latta head coach Jim Foster said. “That’s a good ballcub right there. We handled things like we’re supposed to pretty much.”
Latta was scheduled to host local rival Byng on Tuesday for Senior Night, but Foster was already thinking about the postseason after Monday’s contest. Both Latta and Roff will be at home for district tournament action on Thursday. The Lady Panthers will host Silo in best-of-three matchup beginning at 4 p.m. while Roff hosts a district that includes Vanoss and Macomb that will kick off at 1 p.m.
“That’s all this stuff is, warmups for playoffs,” he said.
Foster said the 12-win Lady Rebels will be no slouch and can’t be overlooked. It’s a tougher-than-expected district draw for the No. 4 team in the state.
“Silo can play, but it’s the playoffs and you have to go beat people. You can’t look for an easy win,” he said. “If we can come out and win two, it should just make us better for regionals and the state tournament.”
The Lady Panthers have had five freshmen in the starting lineup all season and Foster isn’t worried about his youngsters being rattled by the playoffs.
“They’ve handled everything pretty well this year. I’m not too worried about nerves. They know they have a job to do, and I think they’ll go do it,” he said.
Worcester struck out nine and gave up just two hits against Roff -- an infield hit to Darcy Bowerman to lead off the fifth inning and a two-out line drive single to left field by Jalee Hood in the top of the sixth. Senior Madison Abney helped keep Bowerman on the base paths in the fifth by making a sliding catch in right field to rob Amy Crawford of a hit.
Latta grabbed a 1-0 lead after an RBI single by freshman Taylor Bates in the bottom of the second and tacked on three more runs in the third. Shelbey Parnacher’s double was the big blow in that uprising while a pair of Latta runs scored on a Roff error.
Worcester helped her own cause by driving in runs in both the fifth and sixth innings.
Maria Priest, another Latta freshman, finished 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and three runs scored. Tyler Ann Whitney was the only Latta player with two hits, going 2-for-3 from the nine-hole.
Roff head coach Blake Crawford hopes his team can simply get back to full strength in time for district play. The Lady Tigers had only nine players suited up with one starter out with illness and the other recovering from ant bites on her foot.
“We won’t face anyone on the mound like we faced today,” Crawford said. “I think we’ll be ready to go Thursday.”