May 5, 2012

Panthers one game away from state title


Amber-Pocasset head baseball coach Cheyenne Graham had a short motivational speech for his team in the dugout after the fourth inning of the state semifinal game against Roff.

"Two words: Fort Cobb," Graham said to his team. "There's a lot of baseball left to be played."

The Panthers were leading the game 9-2 at the time, and those words served as a reminder to the veteran leaders on the team not to let off the gas.

"Two springs ago, we gave up a nine-run lead in the fifth game of a regional, and it's kind of haunted us and fueled us," Graham said. "It's just our reminder that it's still baseball."

The team took heed to their coach's words, and went on to beat the Roff Tigers 14-5 to advance to the state championship game, where they will face Rattan on Saturday afternoon for a shot at a state title.

"I'm not shocked that we made it this far," Graham said. "We always knew coming in that if we played well, we had a chance to win the whole thing."

The game was never really in doubt after that fourth inning, although Roff did manage four runs in the last two innings of the game; a last-ditch effort to climb out of the deficit Am-Po had put it in.

While the Panthers gave up the opportunity to end the game an inning early by run-rule, they still got the victory behind well-timed hits and a complete game by starting pitcher Trey Winfrey.

Winfrey allowed five runs on ten hits, striking out four batters. It wasn't always a lights-out performance, but he made the pitches he needed to and the defense made the plays when it needed them to get the win.

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