Lady Panthers advance to regionals

Published 4:54 pm Friday, May 6, 2016

For the second time in as many years, the Georgiana Lady Panthers softball team is bound for the beaches of Gulf Shores, but it won’t be a pleasure trip.

After securing a pair of convincing victories—the first by a margin of 17-0, and the second 19-2—over area opponent Ellwood Christian during Tuesday afternoon’s area tournament, the Lady Panthers are advancing to regionals.

Georgiana head softball coach Ezell Powell said that he was especially proud of his Lady Panthers, specifically the way they battled some poor luck the day before the area tournament.

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“I was very pleased with the effort of the young ladies, and the way they supported one another,” Powell said. “Our ace pitcher, [Courtney Powell,] pulled her groin the day before and she couldn’t pitch, so our backup, Makayla Coxwell, did a great job of being the relief pitcher against Ellwood both times and getting the win both times.”

“Makayla did a great job pitching against them the first time we played them in the regular season—we beat them both times—and Makayla had pitched in one of those games and did well, so I felt confident that she could find the consistency in her release that would give us a chance in the ballgame, and she did.”

The Panthers also faced a challenging J.U. Blacksher Lady Bulldogs team and suffered a pair of defeats, the first 16-0 and the second 18-3.

Powell’s absence was more noticeable against the Lady Bulldogs, though young members of the Lady Panthers’ pitching staff stepped up to fill the void to the best of their abilities.

“Also, the other girls that pitched in the other ballgames that hadn’t really gotten much work all season long pitched against J.U. Blacksher, and they did a great job of giving us an opportunity to compete in the ballgame,” Powell said.

Finishing the day 2-2 was enough to earn a second-place finish and a trip to regionals, but there’s still the matter of Powell’s injury.

“We’re taking it day by day.  She’s feeling better, but she’s still walking with a noticeable limp,” Powell said. “So we’re not trying to push her into anything right now.  We’ve got until next Thursday to try to get her ready to go.”

Though the formidable Lady Bulldogs of J.U. Blacksher remain a stormy cloud on the horizon for Georgiana, their first-round opponent in next week’s regional tournament is another familiar face—the Lady Wildcats of Millry.

Millry bounced the Lady Panthers from playoff contention last year in the first round. Fortunately for Georgiana, a lot has changed since last year.

“We’re better than we were last year, so hopefully we have a better chance this time around,” Powell said.

“Their confidence is growing more and more, and it showed Tuesday when we were playing in the area tournament.  That’s one of the things that we’ve got to continue with day by day.”

The Lady Panthers will square off with Millry Thursday at 3 p.m. in Gulf Shores.