KNOXVILLE — The Knoxville Panthers welcomed cross county rival, Pella Christian to the Panther Den Thursday night and after spotting the Eagles a 1-0 lead after one inning, the Panther bats came to life. 10 Panther hits solidified the offense and six runs went on the board.
Meanwhile in the pitchers circle, Ashtyn Finarty shut the Pella Christian offense down on three hits and no runs after the first inning run. It was Finarty’s birthday and birthdays should be celebrated in a special way. She did just that with a pitching gem against a big rival.
The Eagles drew first blood when Bailey Roose led off the top of the first with a base hit past third. Roose moved up on a ground out by Emri Agre and went to third on a wild pitch. A ground out by Anna Bonnett drove Roose home, but that would be all the Eagles would get.
PC threatened in the top of the third with two out. Roose singled and Agre ripped a double to put runners at second and third, but then Finarty snuffed the threat with a strikeout. From that point, the Eagle bats went strangely silent. Credit Finarty’s pitching and some stellar defense behind her for that silence.
The Panthers would find the ignition switch for the offense in the bottom of the third and it came from the bottom of the order. No. 8 hitter Melanie Sullivan lashed a shot past the shortstop and Olivia Maasdam belted a double into the alley in left-center to put runners at second and third. Leadoff hitter, Brittany Bacorn strolled to the dish and smashed a drive off the top of the center field fence to score both runners. Bacorn moved up on a ground out by Emma Dunkin and she scored on a hit by Caira Heffron.
Knoxville would add another run in the fourth when Hannah Dunkin led off with a hot shot through the middle for a single, she swiped second and went to third on a wild pitch. Anna Anderson worked PC pitcher, Alexa Dunsbergen for a walk and credit to both pitchers as that would be the only walk of the entire game. Dunkin and Anderson then worked the double steal for a Panther insurance run.
The Panthers added additional insurance with a pair of runs in the sixth. Finarty led off with a sharp single to left and courtesy runner, Faith Nelson entered the game. Nelson went to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a single by Jadyn Streigle and she scored on a passed ball. Streigle moved into scoring position and she scored on a drive into left field by Sullivan.
“We have been playing really well recently,” Panther Coach Carla Smith said. “We are playing with confidence and our approach at the plate has been very good. We got excellent pitching from Ashtyn and we made some great plays on defense.”
Bacorn led the Panthers with a double and a single and a pair of RBI while Sullivan chipped in with a pair of singles and two RBI. Finarty kept things in check from the circle, allowing only three hits, no walks and fanning four. Roose was the lone Eagle with multiple hits with a pair of singles.
“The bats were good at the start,” PC Coach Karen Harrill said. “But then they went flat. We made some nice plays on defense, but we just couldn’t get the offense going.”
The Panthers are now 13-6 and will host Davis County in an SCC showdown Friday. They will play Sigourney and Creston in the Oskaloosa Tourney on Saturday. Pella Christian is now 10-11 and will host Grinnell in a Little Hawkeye Conference battle on Monday.
Pella Christian 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 2
Knoxville 0 0 3 1 0 2 X 6 10 0
Pella Christian Battery: Alexa Dunsbergen (LP) 6 IP, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K and Faith Kacmarynski
Pella Christian hitting: Bailey Roose 2-for-3, Emri Agre 1-for-3
Pella Christian Runs: Roose 1
Pella Christian RBI: Anna Bonnett 1
2B – Agre
Knoxville Battery: Ashtyn Finarty (WP) 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K and Brittany Bacorn
Knoxville hitting: Bacorn 2-for-3, Emma Dunkin 1-for-3, Caira Heffron 1-for-3, Finarty 1-for-3, Jadyn Steigle 1-for-3, Hannah Dunkin 1-for-3, Melanie Sullivan 2-for-3, Olivia Maasdam 1-for-3.
Knoxville runs: Bacorn 1, Faith Nelson 1, Streigle 1, Hannah Dunkin 1, Sullivan 1, Maasdam 1.
Knoxville RBI: Bacorn 2, Heffron 1, Sullivan 1.
2B – Bacorn 1, Maasdam 1