Coming off of a Bi-District Championship win over the District 3-4A champs Monahans Lady Lobos, and an Area Championship over the Clint Lions, the Pampa Lady Harvesters would find themselves playing a familiar opponent in the Regional Quarterfinals, the district 4-4A champs, Canyon Lady Eagles. Canyon swept Pampa in the regular season 6-2 in Canyon and 2-1 in Pampa. The Canyon win in Pampa, effectively handed Canyon the district championship. It seemed like all the hype was that Canyon would roll right past Pampa into the Regional Semi-Finals. However, the Eagle officially landed this weekend with a thud, as Pampa would sweep Canyon in two games to advance to the Regional Semi-Finals against Burkburnett.
In game one, held at West Plains High School in Amarillo, the teams would combine for 20 runs, with the Lady Harvesters taking a big early lead and holding on late for a 12-8 victory.
In the top of the first inning, Pampa would strand two runners on base and Canyon would score one run. In the first inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Reagan Dyer made the defensive play of the year for Pampa as she dove and caught a line drive for the third out. Had Dyer not made the play, Canyon would have at least scored two runs and possibly three.
In the top of the second, Pampa would take a lead they would never relinquish by scoring three runs. Maecie Hawthorne led off with a single and Reagan Dyer walked putting runners at first and second. Briley Daniels then lined a single off the leg of the pitcher that bounced all the way to right field that allowed Hawthorne to score from second. With two outs and Dyer at second and Daniels at first, McKinley Daniels tripled to deep center field to score two more runs for Pampa.
With the score still 3-1, Canyon would add a run in the third inning to cut the lead to 3-2. However, in the top of the fourth, Pampa would explode for five runs to take an 8-2 lead.
With one out, Carsyn Hunt hit a double to right center field. Hunt would advance to third base on a wild pitch and would score when the catcher’s throw sailed into left field. McKinley Daniels would reach on an error by Canyon shortstop, Mikaila Gilliland. Daniels would be forced out at second on fielders choice by Brianna Cloud. Kynleigh Kirby then doubled off the center field wall, scoring Cloud from first base. Hallie Hawthorne also doubled to center field scoring, courtesy runner, Karina Gonzelez. Maecie Hawthorne would line a 0-1 pitch well over the center field scoring two runs. The inning would end with Pampa up 8-2.
In the top of the fifth, Pampa would add two insurance runs. Hunt singled to left field with one out. McKinley Daniels would then reach on a bunt, putting runners at first and second. With two outs, Kirby drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Hallie Hawthorne then lined a 2-1 pitch to right field to score Hunt and Daniels. At the end of five innings, Pampa took a 10-2 lead.
However, Canyon would not give up easily. Canyon would score six runs to cut the lead to 10-8. In the top of the sixth, Pampa would add two more insurance runs to take a 12-8 lead. With two outs, Briley Daniels drew a walk. Hunt then struck out but reached first base when the ball got away from the catcher. McKinley Daniels then bunted and the throw from the Canyon third baseman sailed away from the first baseman, allowing Daniels and Hunt both to score to make the score 12-8.
Canyon went three up, three down in the sixth and in the seventh, a two out walk put a runner at first base. The runner then tried to steal second base, but a strong throw from Cloud to shortstop, Cassidy Stanhope would end the inning and the game. Hunt had two hits, and scored three runs, McKinley Daniels had four hits, two RBI’s and scored one run. Cloud walked and scored a run, Kirby was 2-4, with an RBI, Hallie Hawthorne was 3-5, with three RBI’s and a run scored., Maecie Hawthorne was 3-5, with two RBI’s and two runs scored, Reagan Dyer walked twice and scored a run and Briley Daniels was 1-3 with an RBI and run scored.
Kynleigh Kirby again went the distance for Pampa, pitching seven innings, giving up eight runs (only one of those earned), five hits, eleven walks and six strikeouts. With the win, Pampa would take a 1-0 lead in the best of three series.
Game two would be held in Canadian and on a hot, humid day and with the stands packed and people standing all around, a good old-fashioned pitchers dual developed between Pampa’s Kynleigh Kirby and the senior pitcher Kylie Knowles for Canyon.
Pampa, the designated home team, would load the bases in the bottom of the first inning, but could not push a run across. In the top of the third inning, Canyon would load the bases with one out, but also be unable to push a run across.
Canyon would finally add a single run in the top of the fifth inning, but Pampa would answer with one run in the bottom of the fifth. Briley Daniels led off with a triple to left field. Carsyn Hunt would then lay down a perfect bunt on a 1-1 count. Hunt beat the throw to first for a single, and Daniels would score on the throw, after an inadvertent collision at home knocked the ball out of the catchers glove. The umpire originally called Daniels out, but after the ball came loose signaled safe. After a conference with the other umpires, the safe call was upheld.
In the top of the fifth, Canyon would get a runner to third base but would not score. In the top of the seventh, Canyon would get a runner to second base but again, they would not be able to score.
With the game tied at one, the stage was set for The Lady Harvesters to walk it off. Cambree Dyer led with a double to right center field. Karina Gonzalez was subbed in to run for Dyer. Gonzalez would narrowly take third on a passed ball. Briley Daniels drew a walk and promptly took second base on defensive indifference. With one out, McKinley Daniels laid down a bunt to third base, and Gonzalez was called out trying to score, although it appeared the Canyon catcher dropped the ball. Briley advanced to third and McKinly advanced to second base. With two outs, Brianna Cloud hit a 2-2 pitch to third base, the third baseman fielded cleanly, but the Canyon first baseman was unable to make the catch allowing Briley to score the winning run from third base.
Hunt had a single and an RBI, McKinley Daniels added a hit, Cambree Dyer led the team with two hits and Briley Daniels added a single and scored both of Pampa’s runs. Pampa would only manage five hits on the day.
Kynleigh Kirby pitched the game of her life for Pampa, going all seven innings, giving up one unearned run on five hits while striking out 4 and walking no batters.
With the win, Pampa claimed the Regional Quarterfinal gold glove for the first time since 2014, it also marks the first time in school history that Pampa has ever beat Canyon on the softball diamond. Pampa will advance to the Regional Semi-Finals to take on the Burkburnett Bulldogs.
Pampa head coach Dottie Hawthorne said “What a series! To come in and sweep Canyon is huge for our program. These wins were a total team effort. This took every player on the team to make this happen. The fans were amazing for both games, the energy level was as high as I have ever seen it at a high school softball game. The girls have been working so hard and I am so proud of them. The support we got these last few weeks from the people and the businesses in the community has just been awesome.”
In other district 4-4A action, the 3rd seeded Dumas Demonettes swept the 2nd seeded Randall Lady Raiders. Dumas moves on to the Regional Semi-Finals and will face Decatur this Friday and Saturday at Lubbock Cooper.
Pampa will face the Burkburnett Bulldogs (32-7-1). Game one will be Thursday at 7:00 PM at Lubbock Christian University. Game two will be Friday at 5:00 PM at LCU. Game three will be played Saturday at noon at LCU, if necessary.
The winner of the Pampa/Burk series will face off against the winner of Dumas/Decatur in the Regional Finals. The winner of the Regional Finals will advance to the state tournament.
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