Panthers top Olympians in softball

The one thing that has plagued the Columbus East softball team came to fruition again Tuesday night against Jennings County.

One bad inning.

The Olympians gave up three runs in the first inning and never had an opportunity to recover, and Jennings County handed them a 6-2 loss.

“I told them in the circle after the ballgame was that what do we need to do to be prepared from the very first pitch,” East coach Rusty Brummett said. “It’s an issue that we have had to battle a couple of different times. If we can figure out a way somehow to get the girls ready from the first pitch, that makes us a pretty good team.”

The Panthers (10-4) started the game with a single from starting pitcher Amanda Bonesteel. Sidney Gerkin then walked. Bonesteel scored on a Tesla Kopitzke single, and a throwing error to home plate allowed Gerkin to score. Kopitzke scored on a Gabby Mahoney groundout to make it 3-0.

In the third, Mackenzie Byram blasted a solo homer to extend the lead to 4-0. The Panthers had 14 hits as a team, but left 10 runners stranded.

“We left some runners on in a couple innings, but our hitters got 14 hits, and I’ll take that any night,” Jennings coach Bobby Willis said. “We have a very good group of girls that have the potential to be very good. We’re still improving and we’re still getting better and that is what we are going to have to keep doing if we want to continue to be successful.”

Bonesteel had a perfect game going until she surrendered a couple of walks in the fourth. Her no-hitter was broken up in the seventh by a Kaitlin Wagner single.

“(Bonesteel) was on it for the majority of the game,” Willis said. “She hit her spots and did her thing, and that is what we expect from her.”

East (9-7) finally got going in the seventh. After Wagner singled, Kendra Pastrick walked and Haley Engelking singled to load the bases. After both Brooke Valles and Becca Carter hit RBI-groundouts, the rally ended up being too little too late as Bonesteel struck out the final batter to end the game.

“We talk all the time about this being a process,” Brummett said. “(Monday) against Mooresville, we took a step back. Tonight, we took a step forward, a step in the right direction. If you can compete against a team like them, we’ll be all right.”