KNOXVILLE — Ashtyn Finarty was beamed up Friday afternoon when the Knoxville Panthers hosted the EBF Rockets in a South Central Conference showdown. Finarty was in total control and shut the Rocket offense down on two hits, no runs, five strikeouts and only one walk in chalking up a 3-0 victory. The win allowed the Panthers to pull into a second place tie with the Rockets and both teams are two games behind league-leading Albia.
The Panthers got a quick jump start as leadoff hitter, Brittany Bacorn, crushed a ball toward the “Green Monster” behind the left field fence for a home run. The drive didn’t quite make it to the legendary pile of weeds, but it was close.
Finarty went to work with the lead and the Rockets did not threaten until the top of the fifth when Faith Roberts belted a single to left. Pinch runner, Hailey Boyer, reached third with one out on consecutive wild pitches, but Finarty bore down and fanned the next two batters to squelch the threat.
Knoxville would add a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth. Melanie Sullivan worked for a base on balls and Olivia Maasdam sacrificed her over. A base hit by Bacorn put runners at second and third as Bacorn moved up on a throw. With two out, Ciara Heffron smacked a solid hit that scored both runners.
From that point Finarty slammed the door on the Rockets and the Panthers were in the winner’s circle.
“Ashtyn threw a great game and our defense played very well behind her,” Panther Coach Carla Smith said. “We did not have an error and that is great to see. Brittany’s home run set the tone for the game and we seemed to be locked in after that.”
Bacorn led the Panthers with the home run and a single while Heffron laced a pair of hits and drove in two runs and Finarty aided her own cause with a pair of singles.
“Our bats have left us,” Rocket Coach Tony Fenton lamented. “We hit the ball so well in the first half of the season, but we are slumping right now. The aggressiveness at the plate was not there. Brooklyn did a decent job on the rubber, but we gave her no support. Defensively we did a nice job.”
The Panthers are 15-7 and are off to Albia on Monday for a big SCC matchup. Meanwhile, EBF will be home Tuesday to face Oskaloosa.
EBF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Knoxville 1 0 0 0 2 0 X 3 7 0
EBF Battery – Brooklyn Bettis (LP) 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K and Emma Lenox
EBF hitting – Emmalee Davis 1-for-3, Faith Roberts 1-for-3
Knoxville Battery – Ashtyn Finarty (WP) 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HB and Brittany Bacorn
Knoxville hitting – Bacorn 2-for-3, Ciara Heffron 2-for-3, Finarty 2-for-3, Hannah Dunkin 1-for-3
Knoxville runs – Bacorn 1, Elaina Hamilton 1, Melanie Sullivan 1
Knoxville RBI – Bacorn 1, Heffron 2