Through nine innings of softball in 2021, Jackson County pitcher Maliah Lee didn’t give up a single hit and she walked just two batters against Clarke Central to help lead the Panthers to a season sweep of the Gladiators.
Lee pitched a five-inning perfect game against the Gladiators on Sept. 7, and on Thursday (Sept. 30) she pitched a four-inning no-hitter in Jackson County’s 17-0 victory. The Panthers defeated Clarke Central 13-1 later in the night to complete the series sweep.
Jackson County (10-9, 8-7 Region 8-AAAAA) put the Gladiators away early with a six-run first inning. Peri Foster and Raeghan Thompson got the offense cruising with a double and single respectively. An error allowed Thompson to reach second base, putting both runners in scoring position. Lee brought both teammates home with a line drive to center field.
Meagan Brownlee singled to right field, and Marley Grounds attempted a sacrifice bunt with two outs, but she managed to reach first base safely on an error. The error also allowed courtesy runner Sierra Townley to score, while Brownlee reached third base. Jackson County led 3-0 with two runners in scoring position.
Madison Losquadro grounded out, but allowed Brownlee to cross home plate. Blayne Dowdie brought Grounds home with a double to right field, and Kylen Hewell brought Dowdie home with a right-field double of her own. Jackson County led 6-0 before Lee threw her first pitch.
Lee’s start wasn’t ideal, walking the lead-off batter on eight pitches, but she recovered to strike out the next three batters, starting a streak of eight consecutive strikeouts in the process.
Jackson County extended its lead to 8-0 in the top of the second inning with a two-run homer by Lee.
The Panthers put Clarke Central down for good by scoring nine runs in the fourth inning. Four of the runs came off home runs by Hewell and Whitney Hulsey. Dowdie, Lee, and Brooklyn Bruce also had RBI’s in the fourth inning. A quick bottom half of the fourth by Lee ended the game early with Jackson County on top 17-0.
JACKSON COUNTY 13, CLARKE CENTRAL 1
The Panther offense didn’t dominate the second leg of Thursday’s doubleheader. In fact, the Panthers trailed 1-0 through the first three innings after the Gladiators scored on a fielders’ choice in the first inning.
Brooklyn Bruce tied the game 1-1 in the top of the fourth inning with a sacrifice ground ball which brought Raeghan Thompson home.
However, no one will remember the ugly start because the Panthers scored 12 runs in the top of the fifth inning, which allowed Jackson County to end the game with a 13-1 victory.
Blayne Dowdie, Kylen Hewell and Whitney Hulsey reached to lead the bases with no outs. Peri Foster brought home a pair of runs with an infield single. Jackson County led for the first time in the game 3-1.
Thompson hit a ground ball to second base which wasn’t fielded cleanly for an error. Hulsey scored to extend the lead to 4-1, and Foster stayed at third base. Maegan Brownlee walked to load the bases and Bruce cleared the bases with a triple to deep right field. Jackson County now led 7-1.
Marlee Grounds had the first out of the inning with a ground ball to second base, but she still brought Bruce home to extend the lead to 8-1. Madelyn Losquadro hit an infield single and Dowdie doubled to put two runners back into scoring position. Both scored on Hewell’s ground ball up the middle. Panthers led 10-1.
Jackson County was far from finished when Hulsey doubled on a hard ground ball. Foster hit a hard grounder into right field which let Hulsey and Hewell score. Jackson County led 12-1. Foster extended the lead to 13-1 when she stole home plate later in the inning.
Brownlee was the winning pitcher after a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth inning.