MERRYVILLE – For the first time in over a decade, Merryville got a shot to move on to the semifinals.
However, No. 3 Montgomery had its ace in the circle and shut out the Lady Panthers 8-0 Friday afternoon at home.
“They had adversity after adversity, whether it was weather, injuries or just youth,” Merryville head coach Ryan Stark said. “We have seven freshmen and two sophomores and one senior. There are just growing pains you have to go through.”
Lady Tiger pitcher Carlee Carter struck out 16 over seven innings and did not allow a hit. Merryville got on base just once after Jenna Reeves reached on an error in the fifth inning.
“She threw hard,” Stark said. “She hit her spots, and she threw several different pitches. When we started to get on her, she mixed in her changeup. When you’re gearing up for that fastball and the changeup comes, you’re in trouble”
Lady Panther pitcher Mackenzie Samuel was solid all year for her squad and held the No. 3 team in the Class 1A to just two runs through four innings.
Samuel gave up eight hits over seven innings and struck out four.
Montgomery went up 4-0 in the fifth inning and opened up the game in the sixth by scoring four runs.
Merryville finishes at 9-10 on the year and had to fight through multiple injuries and the weather, which made them miss multiple games throughout the year.
“We had to regroup, and they came out and fought hard,” Stark said. “I’m so proud of them. The first time they have been to the quarterfinals in 13 years here at Merryville.”
The Lady Panthers lose just one senior – Kamryn Mouton – and the future is bright for the program.
“Honestly, they really came together as a team,” Stark said. “You can’t coach it or teach it. They just came together to support each other.”