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Panthers’ withstand late Centennial rally

If Palo Verde softball coach Kelly Glass wanted to go the glass-half-full route Wednesday, she had plenty of positives to choose from.

But the Panthers’ play in the final half-inning was too difficult for Glass to overlook.

Host Palo Verde committed two errors in the top of the seventh inning and nearly tossed away a four-run lead before holding on for a 7-6 victory over rival Centennial.

“Going into the seventh inning, when you’re up by a few runs, you should be able to finish a ballgame,” Glass said. “They need to make sure they’re working hard every day. There’s been some days where we just kind of go through the motions and a team like that, you can never go through the motions.”

Lauryn Barker went 2-for-4 with a home run and drove in five runs for the Panthers (6-2), who are ranked No. 1 in the latest Southern Nevada Softball Coaches Poll.

Palo Verde entered the top of the seventh leading 7-3 before the third-ranked Bulldogs (5-3) rallied with three runs. An errant pickoff attempt allowed Lina Barrera to score from third, and Brianna Benoit ripped a two-run single off the base of the fence in left-center field to cap a 12-pitch at-bat.

Following a single by Stephanie Day and an error, Centennial had the bases loaded with one out. But Palo Verde pitcher Taylor Askland got Makenzie Ball and Jasmine Rivera to pop up to end the game.

“Obviously, we got the win today, but it didn’t feel good because we made way too many errors physically and mentally,” Glass said. “That just means we have things we can work on, which I’m OK with. I’d rather it be now so we can fix what needs to be fixed.”

Centennial scored three runs in the second inning to take a 3-1 lead, but Barker brought the Panthers’ offense to life. After striking out in the first, Barker lined a two-run homer to left-center in the bottom of the third to tie the score and added a three-run double in the fourth to put the Panthers on top, 6-3.

Barker stole third and scored what proved to be the decisive run two batters later on Kali Tomlinson’s single to right in the fourth.

“I know what my job was being third batter, so I had to make something go,” Barker said. “With my first strikeout, I went up there knowing that I’m not going to strike out again. She threw me a good pitch, and I just threw my hands at it.”

Tomlinson finished with two RBIs, and Samantha Wade and Camden Zahn each had two hits for Palo Verde.

Ava Dolan hit a solo home run and Rivera added a run-scoring double in Centennial’s three-run second inning.

Barrera was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and Day went 2-for-4 for the Bulldogs.

Contact reporter David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ

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