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Lady Panthers, Tigers take game to the wire
Lady Tiger Miracle Fata, in centerfield, robbed Liberty of five potential hits that could have given Liberty an extended lead early on in Tuesday's match up. Liberty won 5-3. - photo by Patty Leon

It was an exciting final three innings Tuesday, as the Liberty County High School Lady Panthers won its home softball game, 5-3, over Bradwell Institute in the teams’ third matchup of the season.

The win gave Liberty a 2-1 advantage in the teams’ series this season.

The Lady Tigers got the early lead when Briana Tootle drove in Shania Eldridge. Liberty tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, Riley Davis drove in a run with a hit to right field to put Liberty up. Serena Davenport singled and Tia Anderson reached first to load the bases. Rachel Smith followed with a two-run single, putting Liberty up, 4-1. Shortly after, Smith scored on a Bradwell error.

In the top of the seventh, Lady Tiger Kaylee Taylor drove in Kayleen Pixley and Tamia Johnson, and suddenly it was a two-run game. With the tying runs on base, Liberty pitcher Kaleigh Fisher struck out Jakaria Fleming to close the game.

Fisher went the distance, striking out six and allowing one walk and six hits.

At the plate, Liberty was led by Smith going 3 for 4 with two RBIs. Cassidy Collum went 2 for 3 with a double and one run scored, Davenport was 1 for 3 with two runs scored Davis was 1 for 3 with one RBI, and Tia Anderson finished 1 for 3 with a run.

For Bradwell, Tootle batted 2 for 3 with one RBI. Taylor was 1 for 3 with two RBIs, Fleming was 1 for 4 with a double, Eldridge finished 1 for 3, and Miracle Fata and Pixley each finished 1 for 3.

Bradwell pitcher Mackenzie Stewart gave up 10 hits and struck out five with no walks.

The game could have turned earlier for the Lady Panthers if not for Fata in centerfield, who robbed Liberty of five potential hits that could have given Liberty an extended lead early on.

“I tip my hat off to her,” Lady Panther coach Jerome Standard. “She was definitely a game changer.”

Liberty, 10-8 overall and 1-1 in Region 3-AAAA, will play a region doubleheader Saturday at Thomson. Standard said the region doubleheader are must-wins to ensure the Lady Panthers can stay near the top of the region rankings and possibly get home-field advantage come playoffs.

The Lady Tigers will host a Region 3-AAAAA game at 6 p.m. Thursday against Effingham County. Bradwell is 3-14 overall and 0-4 in the region.

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