During the summer, many girls from the area play alongside each other on recreational and traveling softball teams. On Saturday morning, however, the friends became temporary foes as the Lady Panthers of Liberty visited Bradwell’s Lady Tigers in a match hotter than the soaring temperatures.
In the end, the Lady Tigers held on to win 8-6 and the girls once again traded hugs and smiles.
The fires got stoked in the bottom of the second inning. Lady Tiger Sarah Wells brought home Ashley Riles. The Lady Tigers loaded the bases and Rachel Ray slapped the ball, bringing home Riles while keeping the bases loaded. A few more hits and steals and the home team closed the inning up 7-0.
The Lady Tigers held the lead but the visiting Panthers were not about to leave without putting up a fight and staged a rally in the top of the fourth.
Lady Panther Brittany Desbiens was walked and stole second. Morgan Crowley was able to make first and Desbiens advanced to third. Lori Harden also walked, loading the bases. With two out and bases loaded Jasmina Smith was walked, giving the Lady Panthers their first run.
Miranda Taylor came in and ripped the ball to mid-field for a triple, 3 RBIs and the visiting team closed the gap to 7-4. Gabriela Anthony hit an RBI and the inning closed with the Lady Panthers down by only two runs.
In the bottom of the fourth, Lady Tiger Candace Blair hit one out to center, causing Lady Panthers Jasmina Smith and Diamone Johnson to collide as they chased the ball. Blair made it to third and then scored on a run off when she beat the toss to home in a cloud of dust.
In the top of the fifth, Desbiens made it to second off an infield error. The Lady Panthers faced two outs after back-to-back catches by Blair in right field. Crowley got a solid hit to the outfield, scoring Desbiens and the inning closed with the Lady Tigers up 8-6.
In the top of the sixth the Lady Tigers got three quick outs and Lady Panther pitcher Lori Harden and her infield returned the favor in the bottom of the inning.
In the seventh, Lady Tiger pitcher Barbara Rego got a strike out and her infield did the rest to hold on to the 8-6 win.
The players lined up, shook hands and then laughed and hugged and went back to being buddies.
The Lady Panthers fall to 0-2 and the Bradwell girls go 1-0 after their opener. Liberty will host Statesboro at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Both squads will travel next weekend when the Tigers head to Glennville and the Panthers head to Tattnall for tournaments.