Sterlington 7, Jena 6
MANGHAM — Pinch-hitter Hannah Jerkins' sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh capped an improbable comeback as Sterlington clipped Jena 7-6 under the international tiebreaker rule Saturday evening in the Mangham Softball Tournament.
Jayla Stewart was placed on second base to start the Sterlington seventh. Walks to Catherine Trichell and Kaela Mullins loaded the bases with nobody out before Jerkins came through with a fly ball to center field for what proved to be the deciding run.
Alyssa Howard was awarded second base in the Jena seventh and eventually stole third, but could go no further as Tanner Wilson quelled the threat with a popup to Mullins at second base and consecutive punchouts.
Two innings in, the Lady Panthers' outlook was about as dreary as the cold, damp weather after the Lady Giants jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
Three walks, two errors, a wild pitch and KayLea Dearman's two-run single enabled the Lady Giants to grab a 4-0 first inning lead.
Dearman drove in two more runs in the second with a home run over the right-center fence. Nana Wilson reached on a one-out error ahead of Dearman's shot as Jena opened up a comfortable 6-0 cushion.
Sterlington broke through for a run in the third before stranding two base runners for the third straight inning.
Breanna Sylvestri and K.B. Briley stroked consecutive singles and Carson Lyon delivered a one-out RBI single.
Jena's Kat Wilson retired the Lady Panthers' next six batters until Briley's solo home run with one out in the fifth closed the gap to 6-2.
Sterlington drew even with a four-run outburst in the sixth.
Mullins pulled a leadoff single into left field, stole second and scooted to third on Jada Smith's groundout.
Four straight batters would reach before the second and third outs were recorded.
Tanner Wilson went the opposite way for an RBI single to left, took second on an error and stole third. Sylvestri then walked on five pitches, bringing the tying run to the plate with the heart of the order coming up.
Back-to-back RBI singles by Briley and Rebekah Wood, the Lady Panthers' No. 3 and 4 batters, brought the Lady Panthers within 6-5. Next, Lyon's groundout to second base drove Briley across with the equalizer.
Tia Brown doubled and Dearman was walked with one out in the Jena sixth, but Tanner Wilson avoided any damage with a strikeout and an inning-ending popup.
Tanner Wilson (6 strikeouts, 3 walks) pitched four one-hit, scoreless for the win in relief of Sylvestri.
Briley went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored as the Lady Panthers (26-4) out-hit the Lady Giants 11-6. Mullins doubled and singled, Lyon was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Sylvestri went 2-for-4 and scored twice, and Tanner Wilson and Wood singled.
For the Lady Giants (17-9), Dearman homered and singled while reaching safely in all four plate appearances. The cleanup batter and first baseman was involved in all six of Jena's runs (4 RBIs, 2 runs). Tia Brown doubled and Tamia Brown, Howard and Jordyn Gresham singled.
Kat Wilson pitched 6.1 innings in taking the loss for Jena.
Sterlington and Jena split two regular season meetings as the Lady Giants won a 7-5 home field decision on Feb. 20.
Next: The Lady Panthers visit West Ouachita on Monday at 5:30 before closing out the regular season with 5 p.m. home games against Ouachita on Tuesday and Ruston on Wednesday. ... State playoff pairings for all classifications and divisions will be released Thursday by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.