Double header at the ‘Burg

Baseball pounds Palatka; softball loses thriller

By Ray DiMonda Correspondent
Posted 3/9/22

MIDDLEBURG - The Middleburg High and baseball softball teams both hosted the Palatka Panthers for side-by side double header action Thursday evening and fans were treated to exciting play on both …

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Double header at the ‘Burg

Baseball pounds Palatka; softball loses thriller

Posted

MIDDLEBURG - The Middleburg High and baseball softball teams both hosted the Palatka Panthers for side-by side double header action Thursday evening and fans were treated to exciting play on both fields.
Both teams lit up the scoreboard with rallies to get out ahead of the Panthers with each having a different outcome. The Lady Broncos bucked hard early and threw the Panthers for a good while. But the Lady Panthers regrouped on the Lady Broncos and countered with a five run rally of their own to pull ahead 5-4. The Lady Broncos came right back a day later with a 7-5 win over perennial powerhouse Baker County to push to a 4-1 overall record with wins over Trinity Christian, Leon and Providence. Note: Lady Broncos beat Gainesville 2-1 on Monday.
“I thought we started out really strong,” said Lady Bronco Head Coach Ashley Houston. “Then I think we got into coast mode early and unfortunately that was a mental mistake on our side and we have to learn to finish better.”
The Lady Broncos came back the next inning to tie 5-5, only to have the Panthers add another run in the fifth and sixth inning to finish out the Lady Broncos 7-5.
Next door on the baseball diamond, the boys team waited until the third inning to go on a Bronco Stampede, rolling out six runs to stun the Panthers and hold them scoreless through five innings when Palatka added a single run.
“That inning, that was huge,” said Bronco Head Coach Daniel Pearce. “They really responded. I told them let’s get eight runs, they gave me six.”
Not holding back, the Broncos went on another rally for three more in the sixth inning to pile on nine runs as the Panthers mounted a desperate attempt to come back on the top of the seventh. The Panther’s day would end after three runs would be all they could muster before having their hopes dashed to finish 9-4.
The Lady Broncos wasted no time as they had the bats awake early. In their first at-bat, Kaelyn Hagan singled with a line drive to center field, and then scored on a Maisey Campbell RBI single to notch the first score for the Broncos. Belle Mincey earned her base the hard way after getting hit by a pitch. Paige Amato singled and had a courtesy runner, Carly Johnson take the ride for her. Campbell was thrown out at third. Kerra Clarida singled on a center field worm burner RBI single, scoring Mincey and pushing Johnson to third, 2-0. On the play at home, Clarida made her way to second. After a Pitcher change, on the second pitch, Johnson took advantage of a passed ball to score, 3-0. Madison Wesley belted a grounder to center for another RBI as Clarida crossed to plate to put her team out front 4-0.
After a Panther five run rally in the third inning to go up 5-4, the home crowd was right back into the game as Kaelyn Hagan took advantage of an error to get onboard with an RBI single to score Alyssa Prather to even it back up, 5-5.
“We have to do better throughout the game, making adjustments,” said Houston. “They bought in a second pitcher who threw a heck of a game and I never did make the adjustments and she threw us off balance.”
The Lady Panthers would add one run in both the fifth and sixth innings as the Lady Broncos could only get a single runner onboard in the last three innings as the Lady Panthers closed the night 7-5.
The baseball boys needed a few innings to get the feel for the Panther’s hauler before they went on a huge run started when William Edgington dropped one into right field for a double and was relived from running by Caleb Freytag.
Skylar Gray walked to put two on with one out. On the first pitch to Luke Padgett, Freytag steals to get onto third base. Padgett followed up with a single over second base that scored Freytag, and pushed Gray to third, 1-0. Padgett was advanced to second base on a defensive indifference call. Jacob Baxley sent a sacrifice fly deep into right field that scored Gray and got Padgett to third, 2-0. Next up was Clayton Hendry with an RBI single to left field to score Padgett, 3-0. Now with two outs, Logan Padgett singles to right field moving Hendry to third. Padgett steals second, and on the play to steal, Hendry scores, 4-0.

On the next pitch, Donovan Wimberly went yard to deep center field for a two run homer to get the Broncos out front 6-0. In the bottom of the sixth, Joseph Gallagher scored on a wild pitch, Skylar Gray scored on an RBI single by Jacob Baxley, and Luke Padgett closed out the scoring on an RBI single by Clayton Hendry, 9-1.
“Right now we just have to stay focused on one game at a time,” said Pearce. “We have to make sure we come out with the energy and focus. We didn’t come out with the focus today, but then they found it as they continued throughout the game. They continued to build that throughout the game. It’s a testament to them; never giving up, never quitting.”
The Panthers scored three in the last inning closing the gap but nowhere near what they needed as the game finished 9-4.
For the girls, leading the batting is Alyssa Prather with a batting average seven hits on 15 at bats and six runs batted in with one homer. Kerra Clarida, a freshman, has two homers with a .375 batting average. Belle Mincey has three doubles.
Pitching for Houston are senior Mallory Forrester with an astounding .28 earned runs against average with 59 strikeouts in 24 innings with sophomore Morgan Beckham adding 15 more strikeouts in eight innings.
For baseball, now 3-1, senior Clayton Hendry holds the hot bat with a .643BA with nine hits in 14 at bats with eight runs batted in and two dingers. The Broncos have big bat stats with Luke Padgett at .600BA, Zack Goodwin and Julian Martinez at .500BA with the Broncos losing a 3-1 opener to Nease before rampaging to wins of 16-4 over Orange Park, 4-0 over Keystone Heights and 9-4 over Palatka.
On the mound, Hendry has 24 strikeoiuts in 13 innings with Cody Waters tossing for 11Ks.

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