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Pinckneyville blanks Bulldogs for Sectional crown

  • Harrisburg's Hannah Reid looks to turn this double play as Pinckneyville's Kiya Hagene slides into second base during Friday's Class 2A Sectional Championship at Du Quoin High School.

    Harrisburg's Hannah Reid looks to turn this double play as Pinckneyville's Kiya Hagene slides into second base during Friday's Class 2A Sectional Championship at Du Quoin High School.

By Spyder Dann
updated: 5/26/2019 9:24 AM

There's a saying in sports, "act like you have been there before."

It's usually applied to celebrations or sportsmanship, in this case, it had to do with experience.

Having already won back-to-back IHSA Class 2A Sectional championships, Pinckneyville made a three-peat with a 4-0 win over Harrisburg Friday in the title game at Du Quoin High School.

The Panthers outhit Harrisburg (31-7) 9-4 and scored a run in the first and third inning, then added two insurance runs in the sixth inning.

"Pinckneyville came out and done some stuff to us that hadn't happened to us all year," Harrisburg head coach Red Stafford said. "The experience factor was there and they played like they have been there before, and they have. That was probably the difference in the ballgame. They got some bunts down, they played some small ball. We didn't do a good job fielding bunts."

After Taylor Kurtz reached on a fielder's choice, Lauren Jackson's fly ball to center that resulted in an error got the Panthers on the board in the first inning.

Harrisburg had a scoring chance in the bottom of the first when Madeline Rider led off with a single into right field, moved to second on a sac-bunt by Mya King and advanced to third on a passed ball, but Essence Sanders struck out and Karsyn Davis grounded out to second to end threat.

Kenzie Prest led off the third with a walk and stole second on a ball in the dirt for the Panthers. After a bunt by Kiya Hagene to move Prest to third, Kurtz singles to score Prest to hold 2-0 advantage.

The Bulldog defense worked out of a jam in the top of the fourth when Payne issued a lead off walk to Hallie Waggoner and a bunt single by Lynlee Linder put runners on first and second. Payne rebounded to strike out Prest and got out of the inning after Hagene flew out to centerfield and Kurtz grounded out to Payne.

Waggoner had a one-out single to right field, followed by a wild pitch, moving the Panthers' courtesy runner to second base. A perfectly placed bunt by Linder put runners on first and third and Prest's single past Sanders scored one. Hagene then grounded out, scoring Linder as Pinckneyville took a 4-0 lead.

Rider had a one-out single past short in the bottom of the frame and Mya King followed with a bloop single that fell in short center, but that threat ended after Sanders and Davis both struck out.

Rider went 2-for-3 for Harrisburg, while King and Ladd each had one hit.

"We had runners in scoring position with the right people up but we just didn't come through with the hits," Stafford said. "That hasn't happened to us all year. Someone has always come through with the hits this year. You hope it doesn't happen in a big game like this but it did.

"I'm proud of the way we competed all year," he added. "We never gave up. We thought we could win every ballgame. It's a good group of kids and our seniors are great leaders. They were always talking to the kids and telling them this and that. They are a great group. I know they're hurting like everyone else and I feel bad for them. I don't know what else to say to them. You hate to see it end, especially in a game like this. We normally hit and we didn't. Kerrigan Payne did a nice job pitching against them."

Payne took the loss in the circle, going the distance, but allowed four runs on nine hits, while striking out three.

Taylor Witges picked up the win for the Panthers as she struck out eight.

Pinckneyville was scheduled to play in the Johnston City Super Sectional on Monday at 2 p.m.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.