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Opportunistic Paradise Honors softball posts first playoff win

Posted 4/29/17

George Witkowski

For West Valley Preps

Paradise Honors softball coach Paul Hatcher says his team grinds out wins. However, it didn’t hurt that his Panthers stretched several singles into …

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Opportunistic Paradise Honors softball posts first playoff win

George Witkowski
For West Valley Preps

Paradise Honors softball coach Paul Hatcher says his team grinds out wins. However, it didn’t hurt that his Panthers stretched several singles into extra base hits and only once get caught.

The No.7 seed Panthers built a 6-1 lead, survived a four-run outburst and posted an 11-6 win over No. 10 Chandler Prep Titans, advancing to the second round of the 2A playoffs at the Rose Mofford Softball Complex in Phoenix.

The Panthers (19-4) face No. 2 seed Benson, 4-1 winners over Willcox. The 2A quarterfinal is scheduled for 5 p.m. May 5 at Mofford.

The Paradise Honors softball team celebrates its 11-6 victory over Chandler Prep in the 2A playoff opener Friday night. It was the first postseason victory in school history.
The Titans finish their season at 20-6.

Although the Panthers had what appeared to be a comfortable five-run lead heading into the fifth inning, Hatcher said his team knows only one way to play softball.

“We battled, fought and grind it out, and that’s all we do,” Hatcher said. “We’re 14 links of the chain and everyone accepts their role. Everyone plays hard and its about attitude, concentration and effort.”

This is Hatcher’s second year with Paradise Honors, and the team’s first playoff win. The Panthers played in their first playoff game in 2016, falling to Eagar Round Valley.

Junior Katie Hatcher pitched her 14th complete game of the season, raising her record to 13-2. She struck out 12, walked two and had one hits batsman. She wanted to make sure the credit went to her teammates.

“I knew my team would pick me up, because they make the plays when we need them the most,” she said. “I wanted to get the batters (for Chandler Prep) out any way that I could.”

The Panthers were off and running in the first inning as Hatcher blooped a routine single into a double. Sophomore right fielder Ashlyn Buntin singled home a run and one out later, junior shortstop Alyssa Anderson lined a single to score the second run.

The Titans countered with a run of their own in their first on a single by sophomore second baseman Justine Cooper, she advanced to second on a wild pitch and one out later scored on a single by junior catcher Paige Cadien. A pair of walks loaded the bases with one out, but Hatcher settled down to record two strikeouts.

Paradise Honors opened things up with two runs in the third on an RBI double from senior catcher Samantha Anderson, and an error allowed the fourth run to score.

It looked somewhat commanding when a fifth inning triple from Samantha Anderson followed by Alyssa Anderson’s base hit made it 6-1.

“The hardest outs are when you’re struggling,” Paul Hatcher said. “Give Chandler Prep credit, and with Benson we’ll have our hands full, but we’ll play hard.”

Chandler Prep began the fifth with a perfectly placed bunt by sophomore third baseman Clair Swingle over the third baseman’s head for a single. Two more singles loaded the bases, and following a strikeout, sophomore centerfielder Robin Lee singled in two runs, still leaving runners on the corners.

Following an error, leading to two more runs, Hatcher induced a strikeout to end the inning.

Either they listened to their coach or shook off the four-run inning as the Panthers scored twice on an error and run-scoring triple by Samantha Anderson, who tried to stretch it to an inside-the-park home run, but was tagged out at the plate.

The Titans got their sixth and final run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly RBI from Cadien.

The Panthers would add insurance with three runs on two passed balls and a run-scoring bases-loaded walk by Hatcher.