Breaking News Bar

Pinckneyville softball Panthers' spectacular playoff run ends at Super-Sectional

By Geary Deniston
Contributing writer
updated: 6/3/2022 4:26 PM

JOHNSTON CITY -- After a combination of Addie Waggoner's dominating pitching, opportunistic batting and a solid defense led the Pinckneyville softball team to regional and sectional titles, the Lady Panthers ran into a Freeburg team that was a little bit better to end their season at Johnston City 2A Super-Sectional Monday afternoon, 3-0.

"Our season was kids doing things right," said Pinckneyville coach Alan Engelhardt. "We dug ourselves a hole where we were the 5 seed in the subsectional, so we were the lower seed in every single game we played in the postseason, but after we won the regional they started to expect to win.

"I think when you do things right and expect to win then you are going to achieve some things and we did beating some really good teams with some really good pitchers. We were trying to take the same approach today, but it just didn't quite work out the way that we had hoped."

Pinckneyville (21-15) came into the game having won six in a row beginning with the last two games of the regular season. The Lady Panthers finished with its seventh 20-win season in the last eight years after its streak of sixth straight was snapped last year when the Lady Panthers posted a 14-9 record.

Waggoner missed 21 games during a month-and-a-half-long absence after suffering a back injury on March 29. She returned on May 14 in the second game of a doubleheader in a relief role where she pitched one inning. The junior made her second relief appearance two days later in the regular season finale pitching three innings. The regionals began two days after that.

"Our entire contingency plan was we weren't going to see her again," Engelhardt said. "It was a happy surprise she worked at it and found a way to get back."

Waggoner came into the Freeburg game with a 0.81 earned run average in the playoffs and three complete games in four starts, including the regional title game that was played on two different days. The right-hander gave up only three earned runs on eight hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 26 innings.

Freeburg (32-1) came in having won 28 straight games by an average score of 12-1, including a 2-0 win over Pinckneyville on May 7 at home. On that day, Lizzy Ludwig shut down the Lady Panthers on two hits and two walks.

Waggoner got off to a rocky start in the first inning giving up a leadoff base hit and a one-out walk before a base hit through the box gave the Lady Midgets a 1-0 lead.

The junior hit the next batter to load the bases, but got out of the jam on a strikeout followed by catcher Ava Adcock picking off the runner at third after a wild pitch that luckily bounced right back to her off the wall.

"One thing about Addie is while she didn't have it today she still got us out of a jam in the first inning," Engelhardt said.

Waggoner recovered to retire the side in order in the second and third innings. She left the game in the fourth with the bases loaded and one out after giving up her second run.

"When I went out she looked at me and said, 'I don't have it', so I took her out," Engelhardt said. "When she returned to the circle two weeks ago we had to build her up a little bit and we probably didn't build her up enough."

Freshman Shea Pyatt, who took over in the circle during Waggoner's rehab, got the second out on a strikeout, but walked the next batter to force in the third run. The left-hander kept the game close shutting out the Lady Midgets on two hits and another walk the rest of the way.

Waggoner faced 18 batters, giving up three earned runs on four hits, three walks and a hit batsman with two strikeouts.

Waggoner was not only dominating in the circle during the playoff run, but was also productive at the plate finishing second in batting average on the team. After going 0-for-4 against Du Quoin in the opener she had a hit in each of the other four games batting .444 (4-of-9) with two doubles and an RBI.

"We missed her bat, too," Engelhardt said. "We debated about moving her up in the lineup, but I liked batting her ninth where she was right in front of Taylor Kurtz. Addie gets on base and we run for her and Kurtz then finds a way of moving her and get her home. We're looking for a full healthy season from her next year both in the circle and at the plate."

Search Carbondale Times