Palo Verde’s lone Northwest League softball loss this season was due to three missing facets of the team’s game.
Good defense, timely hitting and just having fun.
None of those was a problem on Thursday.
The Panthers played flawless defense, took advantage of nearly every Centennial mistake and had plenty of fun on their way to a 5-1 road win.
Palo Verde (12-4, 6-1), whose lone league loss was a 4-0 setback at Cimarron-Memorial, moved within one-half game of first place Centennial (11-4, 7-1) in the league.
“You have to capitalize on other teams’ errors,” said Palo Verde coach Kelly Glass. “Cimarron did the same thing to us, and any other team would do that to us. I just want to win, and I want to get better every day.”
Centennial made five errors, and the Panthers scored in every inning in which the Bulldogs had a miscue.
Palo Verde broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning on a pair of Centennial errors and Rachel Williams’ RBI groundout.
The Panthers and added three runs in the top of the seventh on a two-out single by Angel Council, two Bulldog errors and Melissa McCormick’s two-run double to center.
Meanwhile, the Panthers were perfect on defense.
With winds gusting and creating havoc with nearly any ball in the air, the Panthers, who have only four returnees from last season in their starting lineup, didn’t give Centennial any extra outs.
McCormick tossed a four-hitter and struck out eight, and the Panthers got six ground-ball outs and seven fly-ball outs.
“The conditions weren’t a problem for us,” Glass said. “They just forgot about it. I’d rather Missy be a pop-fly or ground ball pitcher. I don’t care how many strikeouts she has.”
All of that led to an upbeat environment in the Palo Verde dugout.
“We have fun. A lot of teams are scared to do so,” Glass said. “I have fun when I coach, and they love it. They feed off me. We win when we have fun.”
Breanna Beatty added an RBI single in the fourth inning for the Panthers, who made the most of five hits.
Alyssa Hotman had an RBI single for Centennial in the second inning.