DIVISION IV SOFTBALL: Panthers rally late to stun Eureka

Pahranagat Valley softball coach Mike Sparrow has learned that there’s almost no deficit his team can’t overcome.

So when the Panthers trailed Eureka 7-1 in the sixth inning of the opening game of the Division IV state softball tournament Thursday, Sparrow didn’t panic.

And sure enough, the Panthers overcame.

Pahranagat Valley scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and ended the game on a three-run error to steal an 8-7 win from Eureka at UNLV’s Eller Media Stadium.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Sparrow said. “We’ve done this so many times this year, that we have been down late and they have come back and won a ball game. It’s almost like it’s what they expect.”

With the Panthers down to their final out and trailing 7-5, Jamie Hansen drew a four-pitch walk to put runners at first and second for Madalyn Taylor.

Taylor hit what seemed like a harmless ground ball to Eureka second baseman Bridgette Bacon, who misjudged the ball, allowing it to get by her and roll to the fence in right-center field.

Taylor circled the bases to end the game and push the Panthers (17-6) into Friday’s winners’ bracket final. They’ll face Wells (30-2) at noon at Mountain View.

The Vandals (15-6) took advantage of Pahranagat Valley errors to score three times in the fifth inning and three more in the top of the sixth to build their 7-1 lead.

Sarah Prince’s pinch-hit double started the Panthers’ comeback.

Madison Harris followed with a two-run, inside-the-park home run to right-center to make it 7-3.

Three errors with two outs in the inning allowed Pahranagat Valley to pull within 7-5.

“I made a call to put in a senior that has not played much, and she hit that double, and that really kick-started us,” Sparrow said. “She’s been hitting the heck out of the ball, and I really credit that leadership. She does whatever I ask.”

Brook Higbee’s infield single started the bottom of the seventh, and back-to-back strikeouts had the Vandals one out away from victory before Hansen and Taylor’s grounder ended the game.

Prior to the sixth inning, Pahranagat Valley had just four base runners.

“You’ve got to put the ball in play, and when you put the ball in play, things can happen,” Sparrow said. “We were not very disciplined at the plate early on. They settled down.”

Wells 9, Indian Springs 4 — The Leopards took advantage of 11 errors to down the Thunderbirds in the second game of the day.

Hailey Swan was 4-for-4 for Wells, which scored three unearned runs in the third inning to take a 4-2 lead and never looked back.

Winning pitcher Katlyn Del Rio was 2-for-4 with a double and struck out 11 for Wells.

Hannah Thormahlen was 3-for-4 with a triple and two runs, and Cheyenne Noyes went 2-for-2 with a run for Indian Springs (20-8), which will face Eureka (15-6) in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Friday at Mountain View.

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