The Panthers were coming back home looking to kick off the final two weeks of the season on the right now. They would play their last regular season home game against district foes Franklin-Simpson. With it being the last home game, it was the perfect time to honor the seniors that have contributed a lot to the recent Panther success.
Thomas Shifflett, Seth Washington, and Caleb Wills have been mainstays in the line up for the past four years. Shifflett was an extremely effective pitcher until Tommy john surgery robbed him of his junior year on the mound. He is looking to bounce back and help the Panthers reach the regional tournament this year but has already contributed with his bat and defense out in center field. Washington has been a constant manning one of the more physically demanding spot on the baseball field in catcher. He’s been gunning runners out for four years from behind the plate and providing that speed and pop at the top of the line up this season. Wills, despite rolling his ankle in Friday’s game at Metcalfe County and not in the game on Tuesday, has been a jack of all trade for the Panthers. Wills has pitched, played second base, and manned a few outfield positions in his time in the Panthers uniform.
Despite the charged atmosphere and a late rally the Panthers couldn’t get past the Wildcats and fell 4-2.
“So they earned all four of their runs, tip your hat to them they were legit shots and they hit it well,” RHS head coach Lou Kendall said. “They were the better team tonight, but we got to walk away knowing that we can beat that team if we can put it all together.”
With Zach Denney pitching he fooled the Wildcats for two innings, only giving up one run. The third inning though the Wildcats stung the ball all over the field and tacked on three more runs before a screaming liner was snared by Denney on the mound.
For six innings Franklin-Simpson’s starting pitcher baffled the Panthers lineup scattering a few hits over the six innings.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we can beat them, but our bats have to become a little more alive of course we didn’t have two bats in the line up we’ve had all year, Caleb with his ankle and Proctor DHing and that would have helped some,” coach Kendall said.
In the seventh inning though the Panthers bats started to shake loose from the trance that the Wildcats pitcher had placed on Russellville. They would score two runs and then get two runners into scoring position with one out.
But two strike outs later and the Wildcats walked away with a 4-2 victory.
“It’s senior night, you want the seniors to go out winners, it’s a shame we couldn’t deliver for them, but honestly I think they know we can beat this team and they know that this team can beat us a third time as well,” coach Kendall said.
The Panthers will next go to Trigg County before going to Bowling Green Ballpark to play Grayson County on Friday night. They will look to improve and get ready for the third match up against Franklin-Simpson in the first round of the district playoffs.
The Wildcats are the only thing that is standing in the way of the Panthers and the coach Kendall’s last run at a region title.
“Hopefully we can put it all together for the tournament at our place. That’s all you can ask for,” coach Kendall said.