Panthers give champs all they can handle

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Lady Panther at the plate. Kelli Luberda | Sun

Superior Sun

The Panthers softball team entered the first of two games versus San Manuel last week as the top-ranked team in Division IV. The Miners, the defending State Champions, were ranked second. The Panthers battled the Miners in each game before losing both by scores of 7 – 5 and 5 – 3.

In the 7 – 5 loss at Superior last Wednesday, the Miners jumped out to a 4 – 0 lead in first two innings before the Panthers scored three in the third to get within a run.

Starting pitcher Ivie Lopez held the Miners scoreless through the middle innings before San Manuel added three runs in the sixth.

Lopez, who pitched a complete game, allowed seven runs, five earned. She walked two and struck out two.

The Panthers made it interesting in the seventh inning, scoring two runs in their last at bat before eventually losing, 7 – 5.

Cierra Navarrette was 3-for-4 with a triple. Elizabeth Ochoa and Gabby Salcido each had two hits in the game, including a homerun by Salcido. Alonzo had a hit and three RBI.

In the game at San Manuel last Friday, the Panthers fell behind and, again, trailed early in the game, 2 – 0. In this game, however, when they battled back in the third they grabbed the lead, 3 – 2.

Trailing 2 – 1 to start the inning, the Panthers got a one-out single from _____. After a fielder-choice groundout, Elizabeth Ochoa came through with a 2-out RBI double, scoring _____. Ochoa would later score the go-ahead run on a Miners’ throwing error.

San Manuel answered by scoring one run in each of the next three innings on their way to the 5 – 3 victory.

Ivie Lopez pitched her second consecutive complete game and suffered the loss.

Despite losing both games last week to the State Champions, the Panthers showed that not only can they play with the best in the state; they are among the best themselves. After the losses to the Miners, the Panthers are currently ranked third in Division IV.

Upcoming schedule: Apr. 23 vs. Pima, Apr. 25 @ Ray, Apr. 28 DH vs. Gilbert Classical Academy. Games versus Pima and Ray begin at 4:00 p.m. Check with the school for game times and location for the doubleheader against GCA.

Andy Luberda (1000 Posts)

Andrew Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working 15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for 11 high schools. His stories are published in Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun, in addition to the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS and CopperArea websites. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College before graduating with a BS in Communication from Arizona State University in 2014. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


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