The Panther Press

North Lamar Names New Softball Coach

SoftballGreg Higgins
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North Lamar has named Ashley Endsley as the new head softball coach, replacing Jimmy Fendley. Coach Endsley was a North Lamar graduate in 2009.  Coach Endsley played 4 years on the Pantherette’s softball team. Ashley was the Newcomer of the year and Defensive player of the year during her career at NLHS. She was All Red-River Valley 1st team. She then went on to play at PJC for 2 years under Coach Lyon. Coach Endsley then went on to play at UT Tyler for 2 years where they were 4th in the World Series.

Ashley earned Newcomer of the year in the ASC and 2 year All-Conference and 2 year Academic All-Conference. She also earned the National Fast pitch Coaches Association award. Coach Endsley then became the graduate assistant under Coach Reed at UT Tyler. Coach Endsley began her head coaching career at Winona and has spent the last 2 years at Brownsboro carrying the team to the playoffs both years. The athletic department would like to welcome Coach Ashley Endsley back home!

Pantherettes Roll into Area Round of the Playoffs

SoftballGreg Higgins
(Both photos by Joe Watson) Reagan Richardson (left) and Brooke Collard with homeruns in the fourth inning of North Lamar's win over Rains.  

(Both photos by Joe Watson) Reagan Richardson (left) and Brooke Collard with homeruns in the fourth inning of North Lamar's win over Rains.  

Like a train just leaving the station, the North Lamar Pantherettes took a couple of innings to get up to full speed in their Bi-District matchup with Rains. When they did, though, it was over quickly as they defeated Rains 15-0 in five innings to move on to the Area Round.

In the one-game series, North Lamar scored one run in the second inning, two in the third and 12 in the fourth. Every starter, with the exception of one had at least one RBI for North Lamar in the game. The first run of the game came when Erin Scholl was hit by a pitch. She would come around and score a few batters later on a Lauren Hodges single.

North Lamar would get two more in the next inning. Keagan Fendley would reach on an error and then steal second base. Reagan Richardson would then bring her home on a single. It was one of four RBI Richardson would have on the night. Freshman Kerissa Gilliam, a courtesy runner for the pitcher, would come around and score on a sacrifice fly by Bailee Nickerson.

The next inning would provide the fireworks as North Lamar would send 15 batters to the plate, scoring 12 of them. Summer Andrews got things going with a walk. Two batters later, Brooke Collard hit a home run to make the score 5-0. A combination of walks, hit batters and singles kept the runs coming across the plate for North Lamar.

The next big hit came off the bat of Richardson. Already leading 12-0 and with two runners on base, Reagan took the first pitch she saw and planted it over the right field fence.

It wasn't just an offensive explosion either. Defensively the Pantherettes played great. Of course a lot of that starts in the circle. Richardson didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning. It was the only hit she allowed in the game. She also walked one and hit a batter. She did strike out 10 batters as well.

North Lamar now moves on top play Henderson in the Area round. That will also be a one game series and will be played in Lindale on Friday at 6:30.

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Pantherettes Take Care of Atlanta off Reavis Grand Slam

SoftballGreg Higgins
(Photo by Joe Watson) Freshman Ashlyn Reavis with a grand slam in the fourth inning against Atlanta. 

(Photo by Joe Watson) Freshman Ashlyn Reavis with a grand slam in the fourth inning against Atlanta. 

On a night in which North Lamar recognized their three seniors, it was a freshman that did the damage in a 6-3 victory against Atlanta. Madison Morrison, Bailee Nickerson and Erin Scholl were honored before the game on Friday night. All three of the seniors have been on the varsity squad since they were freshman.

On Friday night, it was another freshman that stole the show. The Atlanta coach had decided they didn't want Scholl to beat them so she was walked three of the four times she went to the plate. The second time, though, it loaded the bases. Which set the stage for Reavis.

The game was tied 2-2 in the fourth inning. Reagan Richardson reached base on a fielders choice. Morrison would then be hit by a pitch. Nickerson would single next for North Lamar. Richardson was thrown out at home trying to score. Scholl would then be intentionally walked. Reavis, batting with the bases loaded, would plant the first pitch she saw over the center field fence.

It was the second grand slam hit by a North Lamar player in a weeks time. Lauren Hodges hit one a week earlier against Liberty Eylau. This would be the last runs North Lamar would score but that's all they needed. Atlanta managed to get one more run but that would be all as the Pantherettes moved to 9-0 in district play and 20-3 overall. North Lamar will close out the season at Pittsburg on Tuesday night.

Pantherettes Remain Undefeated in District After a 10-0 Victory Over Liberty Eylau

SoftballGreg Higgins
(Photo by Joe Watson) Junior Lauren Hodges' grand slam against LE put the game away in the fourth inning. 

(Photo by Joe Watson) Junior Lauren Hodges' grand slam against LE put the game away in the fourth inning. 

It was another game that didn't make it past five innings as North Lamar run-ruled another district opponent. This time it was the Liberty Eylau Lady Leopards. Not only was it over early, it was another shut out win as the Pantherettes won 10-0.

Junior Reagan Richardson pitched the complete game for North Lamar. She only allowed two hits and struck out eight in the win. Reagan also helped herself at the plate. She went two for four and had one RBI and scored a run as well.

After a scoreless first inning, North Lamar got on the board in the second. A slap single by Keegan Fendley brought Ashlyn Reavis home. Richardson followed that up with an RBI hit that scored Summer Andrews.

(Photo by Joe Watson) The Pantherettes congratulating Erin Scholl after her solo home run in the third inning Friday night.  

(Photo by Joe Watson) The Pantherettes congratulating Erin Scholl after her solo home run in the third inning Friday night.  

In the third inning, Erin Scholl connected on a pitch and hit the top of the scoreboard in left field for a solo homerun. Later in the inning Reavis would score on a passed ball by the LE catcher.

With a 4-0 lead and heading to the fourth inning, North Lamar would work the bases loaded. Madison Morrison led off the inning with a walk. Bailee Nickerson was hit by a pitch. After two quick outs, Andrews would work a walk. With the bases loaded, Lauren Hodges stepped into the batters box. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Hodges would take the 2-1 pitch and plant it over the right field fence for a grand slam.

North Lamar would add two more in the fifth to end the game. With the win, North Lamar is now 18-3 and 7-0 in district. In distric, North Lamar has outscored their opponents 85-6 and they have held the last three scoreless. North Lamar will look to continue their streak Tuesday as they host Paris at 6 pm.

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Pantherettes Continue Their Domination with Win Over Pittsburg

SoftballGreg Higgins
(Photo by Joe Watson) Reagan Richardson getting ready to pitch against Pittsburg Friday. 

(Photo by Joe Watson) Reagan Richardson getting ready to pitch against Pittsburg Friday. 

The North Lamar Pantherettes continue their dominance in district Friday night as they defeated Pittsburg 10-0 in five innings. Through five district games, North Lamar has outscored their opponents 65-6.

Reagan Richardson had another remarkable pitching performance for the Pantherettes. The third batter of the game doubled for Pittsburg and that was the only hit allowed on the night by Richardson. Pittsburg would only manage to get three batters on in total. One batter was hit by a pitch and another walked. That was it.

(Photo by Joe Watson) Bailee Nickerson with a two-run homer against Pittsburg Friday. 

(Photo by Joe Watson) Bailee Nickerson with a two-run homer against Pittsburg Friday. 

On the other side of the plate, though, the Pantherettes racked up 12 hits on their way to 10 runs. Richardson, Madison Morrison and Ashlyn Reavis all ended the night with two hits for North Lamar. Morrison led the team with four RBI's.

In the first inning, Richardson, Morrison and Erin Scholl all hit fly balls that probably would have been home runs on any other night. However a strong wind blowing in from center field caused them to all stay inside the park. Bailee Nickerson provided the only homer on the night as she hit a two-run shot in the second inning.

With the win, North Lamar is now 5-0 in district and will play at Pleasant Grove Tuesday night. They will be back home for three straight games beginning with Liberty Eylau next Friday night.

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North Lamar Continues District Domination in Win Over Paris

SoftballGreg Higgins
(Photo by Joe Watson) Madison Morrison rounding third base after a first inning home run against Paris. 

(Photo by Joe Watson) Madison Morrison rounding third base after a first inning home run against Paris. 

Through three games in district, the North Lamar Pantherettes have outscored their opponents 44-4. That total includes a 14-2 victory over crosstown rival Paris High on Friday night. The game was supposed to be played at Paris High. Rain earlier in the day, though, caused the game to be moved to Chisum High School.

North Lamar is used to outstanding pitching. We've watched Reagan Richardson for three years now and enjoyed her dominance. However, a freshman for Paris High was equally impressive on Friday night.

(Photo by Joe Watson) Reagan Richardson getting the sign from catcher Bailee Nickerson. 

(Photo by Joe Watson) Reagan Richardson getting the sign from catcher Bailee Nickerson. 

Richardson sat down 15 Lady Cats via the strikeout on Friday night while Saya Swain struck out 14 batters in the losing effort. The problem was the seven errors committed behind her that allowed North Lamar to score 14 runs. That and the impressive hitting by the Pantherettes.

Madison Morrison, Bailee Nickerson and Reagan Richardson all hit home runs on the night. Morrison got the scoring started with her home run over the centerfield fence in the top of the first inning. North Lamar would add one more in the inning to take a 2-0 lead.

Paris would get a run in the bottom of the inning without getting a hit. Two walks and an error plated Taylor Looney for the Lady Cats. The game would remain that way until the fourth inning.

The Pantherettes would score two runs in the fourth and fifth inning. They would blow the game open, though, with four runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings.

Erin Scholl led the team with four RBI's. Richardson, Morrison and Nickerson each had two RBI's. Summer Andrews and Ashlyn Reavis each had one for North Lamar.

Paris got their other run in the fifth inning. Swain hit a towering two-run homer for the Lady Cats. However, a coaches appeal at first base was held up by the umpires as they said she never touched first base after the hit. The first run counted, but hers did not.

With the win, North Lamar is now 3-0 in district and will travel to Atlanta on Tuesday night. Paris is now 0-3 and will be at Pleasant Grove on Tuesday.

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Pantherettes Dominate in First District Win

SoftballGreg Higgins
(Photo by Joe Watson) Ashlyn Reavis headed home after a three-run homer against Pleasant Grove. 

(Photo by Joe Watson) Ashlyn Reavis headed home after a three-run homer against Pleasant Grove. 

The last time the North Lamar Pantherettes played Pleasant Grove, it was for the right to go to the state tournament in Austin. North Lamar outlasted the Lady Hawks in a three-game battle. This time it wasn't for the right to play in Austin, but rather, for the first district win.

Aided by a 10-run fourth inning, North Lamar jumped all over the visitors from Texarkana 14-1. The Pantherettes jumped out early thanks to a couple of walks and some sacrificing flies. North Lamar scored two in the first inning and one each in the second and third.

While the offense was producing runs, junior Reagan Richardson was dominating in the circle. The first hit allowed came in the top of the fourth. It was a solo home run hit by the pitcher, Kristin Key. It was one of three hits allowed all night. Reagan also struck out 10 batters, with seven of those looking at third strike.

Reagan helped herself at the plate, too. Leading off the inning, she took the first pitch she saw in the fourth inning and drove it over the right field fence. That seemed to open the flood gates as the first six batters reached safely and 15 batters batted in the inning.

Reagan wasn't the only homerun hitter on the night. Freshman Ashlyn Reavis hit a three-run shot over the left field fence in the same inning. Reavis finished with a team high five RBI's in the game. Richardson had three while Madison Morrison, Bailee Nickerson, Erin Scholl and Brooke Collard each had one RBI apiece.

With the win, the Pantherettes are now 12-3 (1-0) for the season. They will be on the road for the next three games against Liberty Eylau, Paris and Atlanta before returning home in two weeks to face Pittsburg.

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Pair of Pantherettes Honored Again

SoftballGreg Higgins
Reagan warming up before the state title game in Austin.  

Reagan warming up before the state title game in Austin.  

Once again, North Lamar is honored across the state. This time it comes at the hands of the Texas Sports Writers Association (TSWA) as they announced their all state softball teams. Reagan Richardson was selected as first team pitcher while Bailee Nickerson received third team catcher honors. Both players were nominated for district honors last month as well. Reagan and Bailee were both instrumental in the Pantherettes run to the state title game last month.  

Bailee Nickerson getting ready to receive a pitch during the state title game.  

Bailee Nickerson getting ready to receive a pitch during the state title game.  

2016 District 15-4A Softball All-District Selections

SoftballGreg Higgins
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SUPERLATIVES

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kimmie Atienza (PG)
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Bailee Nickerson (NL)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Brette Wacha (PG)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Lanee Oliver (ATL)
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Marisol Kennedy (PITT)
COACHING STAFF OF THE YEAR: Pleasant Grove

1ST TEAM SELECTIONS

PITCHER (2): Madison Haltom (PG) & Reagan Richardson (NL)
CATCHER (1): Kinsey Kelly (ATL)
1B (2): Lauren Hodges (NL) & Emily Hilton (PG)
2B (2): Kaydee Kelly (ATL) & Jaycie McEwin (NL)
SS (2): Madison Morrison (NL) & Bailey Smith (PITT)
3B (2): Faith Lipham (PG) & Justonni Farmer (ATL)
OF (6): Carley Barret, Khadijah Oritola (PG) & Alyssa Simmons, Victoria Bergt (ATL), Bill Jones (NL) & Sydney Waldrep (PITT)
DP (1): Summer Andrews (NL)
UTILITY (1): Kaycee Parker (PITT)
FLEX (1): Gracie Smith (ATL)

2ND TEAM SELECTIONS

PITCHER (1): Summer Downs (LE)
CATCHER (1): Savannah Phelps (LE)
1B (2): Lexi Oliver (ATL) & Sydney Reynolds (PITT)
2B (1): Adrianna Byrd (LE)
SS (1): Jenna Stallion (Paris)
3B (1): Erin Scholl (NL)
OF (4): Taylor Bullock (PITT) & Keeley Norris (LE) & Hanna Snyder (PG) McKayla Figueroa (NL)
DP (1): Madison Allen (PG)
UTILITY (1): Amanda Whatley (ATL)
FLEX (1): Madison Busch (PITT)

Honorable Mention:
PG: Kristin Key
NL: Brooke Collard
PITT: McKenzie Blackstock & Madison Sansom
LE: MJ Coleman

The End

SoftballGreg Higgins
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There are books we read as children and as adults where we do not want the story to end. Sometimes it's because we don't like the outcome and sometimes it's because the story is just too good to finish.

This was the case with the North Lamar Pantherettes softball season. Win or lose, the story was over on Saturday afternoon. It was a story that began a long time ago. Years and years of traveling and practicing had led up to the moment in Austin on Saturday morning. The story had many different characters and many different plot twists.

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This story was a story of a strong group of girls that believed. They believed in each other when others wouldn't. They believed in the power of unity and strength in numbers. It was a story in which a group of girls found themselves with their backs to the walls on numerous occasions and, against all odds, found a way out.

Some of the chapters of this book include finding their identity. A chapter in which they had to struggle through District Play to find out who they are and what they're made of. There was a chapter on adopting the motto. Their motto is so clearly understood now, but at the time only a few people realized the significance of "No Quit."

Another chapter is about slaying the beast. It's a David and Goliath approach to the season. On the way to Austin, this group of 14 girls defeated Atlanta, Needville, Krum and Pleasant Grove. Those four teams were ranked 10, five, three and two in the State at the time of the playoff meeting.

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The final chapter of this book is called Standing Tall. This group of girls had the ability to live in the moment. Because of this, they always stood tall. They represented their school, their coaches, their teachers, their parents and their community with dignity and honor every time they took the field. No matter who they played nor the outcome, this group of 14 stood tall.

On Saturday, the story didn't end as we wanted. As La Grange celebrated their 8-1 victory, the Pantherettes stood by the dugout hugging each other. The number one team in the state and the number four team in the nation had just won a State Title.

As the team received their runner-up trophy and their silver medals, I couldn't help but think about everything they've been through. The battles. The extra innings. Even though they lost on Saturday, they did what 126 other teams couldn't do. They made it to the end. When the playoffs started 128 teams made the cut. North Lamar played in the final game of the season because they deserved it.

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The team will be losing two outstanding young women. Jaycie McEwin and Bill Jones walked across home plate and received their diplomas in Austin. The second baseman and the right fielder played their last game as a Pantherette. They will go on to live their lives and do incredible things. How do I know this? Because they're leaders. They do the impossible. They've shown that the past four months with a softball team that played on the biggest stage in the biggest moment, and they stood tall.

As far as the rest of the team, well here they are. Doing the introductions is the UIL Public Address Announcer. This is your 2016 State Runner-Up North Lamar Pantherettes:

#NoQuit

SoftballGreg Higgins
Pantherettes with their last practice of the season.  

Pantherettes with their last practice of the season.  

On Thursday afternoon as McKayla Figueroa crossed home plate, the reality set in. This team, the North Lamar Pantherettes, had done it again. Six times this postseason North Lamar has come from behind to win a game when trailing in the sixth inning or later.

This isn't a surprise, though. Not with this team. Everything they do is about the team. From the seniors to the freshman, none of them play as individuals. They all know their roles and not one person complains.

Their "No Quit" motto is what they've become known for, but it's not what defines them. This team is more than just a group of comeback kids. North Lamar boasts one of the best defenses in the state from top to bottom. Whether it's Madison diving for a catch out of bounds or Bailee Nickerson gunning down a runner the team is defensively sound.

Most people know this, though. What the average person doesn't see is the encouragement shown in the dugout. When someone strikes out or pops out, the rest of the team is yelling encouragement to them. When Reagan Richardson walks a batter, Bailee is the first person to pick her up.

Something else unique about this team, though, is their superstitions. This team, like nobody I've ever seen, believes in rituals. Whether it's wearing the same clothes to eating the same meal, this team believes in their routines. Don't think it's the only the girls that believe, this either. Head coach Jimmy Fendley and assistant coach Kathy Barker lead the charge. Can you blame them, though? This team is one win away from a State Championship. Nobody will be able to convince them that their routine doesn't work.

Whether you believe it's the superstitions, the encouraging words or their "No Quit" motto, there's no denying this team is special. As they practice for the last time of the season on Friday morning, I tried to relish the moment. This team has given all of us who follow them a tremendous ride. These girls deserve to be playing in Austin and deserve to playing in the final game of the year. That's exactly what they'll be doing.

Comeback Kids Do It Again

SoftballGreg Higgins
Jaycie McEwin getting ready to bat against Needville Thursday afternoon.  

Jaycie McEwin getting ready to bat against Needville Thursday afternoon.  

The motto that the North Lamar Pantherettes have adopted this year is "No Quit." Why wouldn't they adopt that motto, though? Coming into their semifinal matchup with Needville, North Lamar had won five playoff games in which they trailed in the sixth or seventh innings. This team not only uses "No Quit" as their motto, but they've embraced the attitude during the games as well.

This couldn't have been more prevalent then when they played Needville Thursday afternoon in Austin. The game, which was supposed to be played at noon, was pushed back because of the weather. After warming up, the Pantherettes were ready to take the field.

North Lamar fell victim to early jitters and quickly found themselves down 2-0 in the second inning. Not letting this get them down, the Pantherettes immediately fought back and took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the inning.

Erin Scholl led off the inning for North Lamar with a base hit. Bill Jones would walk. Jacyie McEwin would drive in the first North Lamar run with a single that scored Scholl. Jones would score later in the inning on a single by Brooke Collard. An error on the left fielder of Needville would then score McEwin for the North Lamar lead.

Needville would take a 4-3 lead when they scored two more runs in the top of the third inning. The score would remain that way until the fourth when Collard singled. Reagan Richardson would smash a triple to the outfield gap, scoring Brooke on the play and tying the game.

The score would remain tied at four until the seventh inning. Needville would take a two run lead on an RBI double and a bases loaded walk.

Down to their final three outs of the season, North Lamar received final instructions from head coach Jimmy Fendley. As the Needville fans were cheering their team on, the Pantherette faithful watched in anticipation. Every one of them had seen this story before and they knew the outcome before Reagan stepped into the batters box.

The first pitch of the inning hit Reagan on her right leg. Madison Morrison hit a hard grounder to the third baseman. She threw to second but Richardson slid in ahead of the throw. Runners on first and second and Bailee Nickerson stepped up. Bailee took the second pitch she saw and drove it hard to centerfield. Reagan easily scored and Madison made it to third. After Scholl struck out, Summer Andrews hit a sacrifice fly that scored Madison to tie the game.

For the fourth straight week, North Lamar went to extra innings. After a perfect eighth inning defensively it was time to go to work offensively. McKayla Figueroa smashed a ball to the gap in left center. As the center fielder mishandled the ball, McKayla found herself standing on third base with only one out. Collard and Richardson would draw back-to-back walks.

"I had struck out and sac bunted so I knew I had to get this hit and get on base. The top of the line up is really good about getting us in when you get base runners." - McKayla Figueroa

With one out, Madison stepped up to the plate. Morrison took a 1-1 pitch and drive into left field for a single. Figueroa easily walked across home plate for the game winning run. North Lamar, the comeback kids, have earned a chance to play for another State Championship.

Pantherettes are Austin Bound

SoftballGreg Higgins
(Photo by Amber Clark) North Lamar celebrating after the final out in game 3 against Pleasant Grove. 

(Photo by Amber Clark) North Lamar celebrating after the final out in game 3 against Pleasant Grove. 

Head coach Jimmy Fendley has mentioned the "No Quit" attitude of his team after every playoff series they have been involved in. Once again, this was on display over the weekend as North Lamar knocked off Pleasant Grove in three games to advance to Austin and the State Tournament.

North Lamar had several opportunities to pack up and quit. They gave up seven home runs in games two and three on Friday night. They lost the lead in game one on Thursday night.

After losing game two by a 16-6 score, they could have easily thrown in the towel and said this isn't our night. Not this team, though. Not this year. This team rallied behind each other and played North Lamar softball in game three.

(Photo by Amber Clark) Bailee Nickerson getting around the catcher to score for North Lamar. 

(Photo by Amber Clark) Bailee Nickerson getting around the catcher to score for North Lamar. 

Game 1: North Lamar 4 Pleasant Grove 2 (8 innings)

It wouldn't be a playoff series this year if North Lamar didn't go to extra innings. Reagan Richardson dominated the Pleasant Grove hitters all night long. She gave up two runs on seven hits and struck out 12 in the win.

North Lamar got the scoring started with solo home runs in the third inning by Richardson and Bailee Nickerson. That would be all the scoring until the sixth inning when Pleasant Gove would get on the board.

The Pleasant Gove leadoff hitter, Kimmie Attienza, would walk and steal second. Kristin Key would single to drive her in. That's the only run the Lady Hawks managed in the inning but they weren't done.

With two outs in the seventh and nobody on base, Pleasant Grove was able to manufacture another run against North Lamar. The Lady Hawks got back-to-back singles and took advantage of an error on the left fielder Summer Andrews to tie the game.

That would set up the heroics in the eighth inning for North Lamar. Reagan singled to lead off the inning and was advanced to second by Madison Morrison. Bailee would then reach on an error by the Pleasant Grove first baseman, which allowed Reagan to score and Bailee to take second. A single by Summer would score Bailee for the final run of the inning.

After a leadoff walk in the eighth, Reagan got three straight outs for North Lamar to give them the game one victory.

(Photo by Amber Clark) Summer Andrews being congratulated by her team after hitting a solo Home Run against Pleasant Grove. 

(Photo by Amber Clark) Summer Andrews being congratulated by her team after hitting a solo Home Run against Pleasant Grove. 

Game 2: Pleasant Grove 16 North Lamar 6

Game two started out disastrously for North Lamar. Kimmie Atienza took a 3-2 pitch and planted it over the left field fence to start the game for Pleasant Grove. Back-to-back doubles later in the inning would score another run and just like that the Lady Hawks were up 2-0.

Pleasant Grove would hit five home runs off North Lamar pitching en route to the blowout win. They were aided by three errors from North Lamar's defense in the process.

Reagan Richardson didn't have a great start for North Lamar. She only lasted two and a third innings and gave up seven runs. All of them were earned. She struck out three and walked three. Brooke Collard came in and gave up nine runs, five of which were earned by the Lady Hawks.

Trailing 7-0, North Lamar briefly made the game close in the third inning with four runs. However, Pleasant Grove added five in the fourth inning to put the game out of reach for the Pantherettes.

(Photo by Amber Clark) Erin Scholl with a throw to first for the final out of the series. 

(Photo by Amber Clark) Erin Scholl with a throw to first for the final out of the series. 

Game 3: North Lamar 5 Pleasant Grove 2

With this game being played approximately 30 minutes after the completion of game two, there was one question hanging out there. It was simply this: "Could the Pantherettes shake off what happened in game two?"

For the second straight game, their leadoff hitter took Reagan Richardson deep. Pleasant Grove would get another solo home run in the third inning to extend their lead to 2-0.

The score would remain that way until the fifth inning. Reagan would get a two-out single to center field. Madison Morrison would then triple her home to put North Lamar on the board.

In the top of the sixth inning North Lamar would tie the game. This time it was off the bat of Summer Andrews who hit a solo home run for North Lamar.

With one out in the seventh inning, Reagan worked a walk. Madison would then single her over to second base. Bailee Nickerson would follow that up with a single of her own, which scored Reagan.

Madison would score on a sacrifice fly by Erin Scholl. A single by Andrews would score Bailee to finish out the scoring for North Lamar. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Pantherettes would get three straight outs to win the game and the series.

As the team rushed the field and embraced, the North Lamar crowd cheered as the reality set in that this team was headed back to Austin. North Lamar, who hasn't been back since their championship in 2010 will play Thursday in the State Semi-Final game. The opponent and the time have yet to be determined.

(Photo by Amber Clark) Coach Jimmy Fendley leading the charge on to the field for North Lamar after the series win against Pleasant Grove. 

(Photo by Amber Clark) Coach Jimmy Fendley leading the charge on to the field for North Lamar after the series win against Pleasant Grove. 

Pantherettes Keep Rolling in Postseason Play

SoftballGreg Higgins
Pantherettes: Regional Finalists  

Pantherettes: Regional Finalists  

Last weekend the North Lamar Pantherettes defeated the number 10th ranked team in the state when they knocked off Atlanta in three games. This weekend they faced the number three ranked team. Krum had come into the series with North Lamar only allowing two runs all postseason long. Safe to say they hadn't faced a team quite like North Lamar yet.

Reagan Richardson getting set for a pitch against Krum

Reagan Richardson getting set for a pitch against Krum

Game 1: North Lamar 3 Krum 0

Game one was a game in which pitching dominated the night. Krum, behind Tristan Bridges, only gave up five hits on the night. One of the problems, though, was the fact that three of the hits came in the same inning.

The top of the third inning saw Brooke Collard, Reagan Richardson and Madison Morrison all reach base. The first two via singles and the last due to a fielder's choice in which nobody was thrown out. Enter Bailee Nickerson, who ripped a bases-clearing double to the wall.

With North Lamar up 3-0, the game was basically over. Richardson pitched one of the best games of her career as she dominated the Krum lineup. Richardson only allowed one hit in the game while striking out 13 and walking one. She fooled the hitters all night as she had every pitch working perfectly.

 (Photo by Amber Clark) Pantherettes celebrating after a 16-inning victory.

 (Photo by Amber Clark) Pantherettes celebrating after a 16-inning victory.

Game 2: North Lamar 4 Krum 3 (16 Innings)

For the second week in a row the Pantherettes played the equivalent of a double header on Friday night. Against Atlanta a week ago, North Lamar played a 12 inning game, followed by a seven inning game. This week, against Krum, the Pantherettes needed 16 to get the victory.

Krum opened the scoring in the fourth inning with a three-run homer off Reagan Richardson. However, as they have done all season, the Pantherettes battled back. This time it came in the sixth and seventh innings.

The lone run in the sixth came when Summer Andrews singled Richardson in. Down to their final out in the seventh inning, North Lamar was able to tie the game. Jaycie McEwin, who was hit by a pitch and Richardson both came around to score when Madison Morrison hit a triple to left field.

The game would remain that way until the bottom of the 16th inning. Once again North Lamar had two outs in the inning. McEwin singled to start the rally. McKayla Figueroa hit a line drive into right field. The right fielder dove for the ball and was unable to come up with it, allowing it to get by her. McEwin, running on the contact, rounded third and was able to score.

Getting the win for North Lamar was Richardson. She went all 16 innings for the Pantherettes. She allowed three runs on eight hits. She walked two and struck out 20 in the win. With the win, the Pantherettes clinched the series 2-0. They now move on to play Pleasant Grove in the Regional Finals. The winner will travel to Austin the following week. The games against Pleasant Grove will all be played at Texas A&M Commerce. First game is Thursday at 7:00. Game two will be Friday at 6:00 and, if necessary, game three will follow.

Pantherettes Outlast Atlanta in Epic Series

SoftballGreg Higgins
Pantherettes: Regional Quarterfinal Champions

Pantherettes: Regional Quarterfinal Champions

In their three game series, North Lamar and Atlanta battled to the very end. All three games were decided by a comeback victory. North Lamar scored 17 runs in the series while Atlanta scored 16. They played 26 innings in the three games and in the end, North Lamar is advancing.

Game 1: Atlanta 7 North Lamar 6 (12 innings)

Reagan Richardson both hit and pitched well for the Pantherettes. She reached base six times. She had a triple in the fifth inning and a double in the twelfth for North Lamar. She also went the distance in the circle as she allowed six runs on seven hits.

North Lamar struck first as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Richardson and Bailee Nickerson would score when Erin Scholl singled. Scholl would then score on a ground out by Summer Andrews.

Atlanta would tie the game in the second inning on a three-run double by Cydnee Wood. North Lamar would have a 5-3 lead heading into the sixth inning. However, Atlanta would score one run in each of the sixth and seventh to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

The game would remained tied at five until the tenth inning, when Atlanta would score. A sacrifice fly by Madison Morrison in the bottom of the inning would tie it up, though. Atlanta would take the lead for good, though, in the twelfth inning.

Reagan Richardson getting ready to pitch against Atlanta

Reagan Richardson getting ready to pitch against Atlanta

Game 2: North Lamar 6 Atlanta 5

Reagan Richardson, once again, went the distance for the Pantherettes in the circle. It was her bat, though, that helped secure the win. She went 4-4 from the plate with two singles and two doubles.

Her biggest at bat came in the seventh inning. Trailing 5-4 and the possibility of their season ending, Reagan led off the inning with a double. Bailee Nickerson would double her home to tie the game. The Pantherettes would finish the comeback and take the lead when Erin Scholl doubled Bailee home.

In the circle, Reagan allowed three earned runs, seven hits, two walks and struck out six batters.

Jaycie McEwin squaring around for a bunt for North Lamar

Jaycie McEwin squaring around for a bunt for North Lamar

Game 3: North Lamar 5 Atlanta 4

After playing nearly six hours on Friday night, the Pantherettes and Lady Rabbits met for one final time this season on Saturday afternoon. Both teams know what to expect from each other.

It wasn't until the fourth inning that either team finally got on the board. It was North Lamar striking first. Bailee Nickerson and Erin Scholl opened the inning with singles. Nickerson would be thrown out trying to score on a grounder by Summer Andrews. Bill Jones would hit a grounder to third. The throw to first was high and wide which allowed Scholl and Andrews to both score.

The score would remain 2-0 until the sixth inning. Atlanta would score four runs in the inning to take a 4-2 lead.

North Lamar would answer like they have all season. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Pantherettes would grab three runs. It started when Madison Morrison reached on an error by the third basemen. Nickerson would single her to second. Morrison would score on a single by Scholl.

Summer would hit a high pop up behind the pitching circle but the shortstop for Atlanta dropped it. Nickerson would score to tie the game. Scholl would score later in the inning on a fielder's choice. That would be all the Pantherettes would get in the inning but it was enough.

Brooke Collard, who came in to relieve Reagan Richardson in the sixth would close out the game for the Pantherettes. After giving up a leadoff single and walking the next batter, Collard got a fielder's choice, a strikeout and a ground out to end the game.

With the win, the North Lamar Pantherettes advance to play Krum in the Regional Semifinals. Time and location have yet to be set.

Pantherettes Lose on Walk-Off Homer

SoftballGreg Higgins
Reagan Richardson getting read to lay down a bunt earlier in the season for North Lamar.

Reagan Richardson getting read to lay down a bunt earlier in the season for North Lamar.

It's not the way you want the regular season to end, but North Lamar's season isn't over yet. The Pantherettes fell to Pleasant Grove on the road 7-5 Tuesday night thanks to a three-run walk-off home run.

North Lamar, who beat Pleasant Grove earlier in the season, battled back from a 4-1 deficit to take a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. It was then that Faith Lipham took an 0-1 pitch and planted it behind the wall in centerfield. 

At the plate, North Lamar got offensive production from Reagan Richardson, who went 3-4 including a double. Erin Scholl went 1-3 with a homerun. The other RBI came from Madison Morrison and Bailee Nickerson who each had one a piece.

With the loss, North Lamar finishes district 6-4 and will be the third place team. Last year the third place team from the district made it to the State Tournament. Can North Lamar repeat that this year? We will find out beginning next week as the playoffs begin.

Seniors Jaycie McEwin and Bill Jones Go Out with a Bang

SoftballGreg Higgins

After a disappointing performance against Atlanta on Tuesday night, the North Lamar Pantherettes took out some frustration Friday night against the Paris Lady Cats. They only needed four at-bats to put up 22 runs against their crosstown rival. That along with a dominating pitching performance gave North Lamar a 22-0 victory.

In the circle, North Lamar only allowed one hit and one walk to Paris. Both of those came off relief pitcher Reagan Richardson, who went two innings. Starting pitcher Brooke Collard pitched three innings of perfect softball.

Offensively, the Pantherette bats exploded against Paris. Bailee Nickerson led the way with five hits in five plate appearances. She belted two homers and drove in six runs.

"Hopefully this boosts our confidence a lot," Nickerson told me after the game. "With Lauren getting that grand slam, hopefully it shows us that we can hit the ball every time."

The play she is referring to is in the bottom of the fourth inning when Lauren Hodges stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Lauren took a 2-2 pitch and hitter it over the right field fence. As soon as she made contact, you knew the ball was out of here.

Not only was this a game against Paris, but it was senior night for the Pantherettes. North Lamar's two seniors, Jaycie McEwin and Bill Jones had a memorable game last regular season home game.

"Going out with a bang," Jaycie said about the game. But we still have a big game."

That big game she is referring to is Tuesday night at Pleasant Grove. North Lamar defeated the Lady Hawks earlier in the season at home.

"It's not over yet," Bill added. "We still have a lot of work to do."

Pantherettes Fall to Atlanta Despite Erin Scholl's Offensive Explosion

SoftballGreg Higgins
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For the third time in district and the second time against Atlanta, the North Lamar Pantherettes lost a softball game. Having lost 3-1 in Atlanta earlier this season, North Lamar fell 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Erin Scholl did what she could to try and help bring a victory as she belted two home runs for North Lamar. Even though they were both solo shots, it was much needed offense for North Lamar.

Defensively, the Pantherettes struggled as they committed six errors in the field which led to two unearned runs for Atlanta. Reagan Richardson took the loss for North Lamar as she went the distance in the circle. She struck out seven and walked one for North Lamar while giving up five runs. Three of the runs were earned, however.

With the loss, the Pantherettes are 5-3 in district. North Lamar will try to bounce back on Friday as they host the Paris Lady Cats for senior night. They will then close out the regular season on the road against Pleasant Grove.

North Lamar Dominant in 6-0 Victory on the Road

SoftballGreg Higgins
Brooke Collard pitching against Paris earlier in the season.  

Brooke Collard pitching against Paris earlier in the season.  

Early lead gives the North Lamar Pantherettes victory over Liberty-Eylau, 6-0

North Lamar jumped out to an early lead on Liberty-Eylau and captured a 6-0 victory Tuesaday.

The game was decided quickly as the Pantherettes exerted its will early with five runs in the first three innings.

A three-run double by Lauren Hodges, an RBI single by Reagan Richardson, and a wild pitch during the second inning supplied the early offense for Pantherettes.

Brooke Collard baffled Liberty-Eylau, striking out 10 batters. The North Lamar pitcher tossed seven innings of shutout ball and allowed only four hits.

With the win, North Lamar improves to 4-2 in district. They will host Pittsburg on Friday night in a rematch from earlier in district. Pittsburg won that contest.