SHAWNEE — The Amber-Pocasset Lady Panthers gave themselves a chance.
If the Lady Panthers wanted to get to the state title game, they needed to defeat two teams ranked higher than them in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Class 3A state tournament Tuesday in Shawnee.
They did that.
Am-Po — ranked seventh in Class 3A — took down No. 4 Strother 8-7 to open the tournament. They followed up that win with a 15-10 win over top-ranked Rattan.
The Lady Panthers looked to avenge a regional loss to No. 3 Navajo, but they ended up falling 14-6 in the title game.
Am-Po’s offense was powered by Baylee Haugland and Caton Muncy. The two players combined for six home runs, and it was the first of Muncy’s two home runs that sent the Lady Panthers to the semifinals.
Down 7-5, Am-Po found itself down to its last out with nobody on base. Taygan Graham and Jacie White were able to reach base, setting up Muncy for her walk-off three-run home run.
Haugland's first home run of the day was a three-run blast to give the Lady Panthers a 4-1 lead over Strother. Am-Po's opponent was then able to rally and take the lead.
The second game of the day was a back-and-forth affair, but the Lady Panthers were able to come out on top. Haugland’s second home run of the day was a two-run shot in the top of the first that put the Lady Panthers up 3-0.
Rattan took a 6-3 lead before Muncy’s second home run of the day made the score 6-4. Am-Po took the lead for good in the top half of the fourth inning, scoring six runs. The offensive outburst was capped with Haugland’s third home run of the day.
Am-Po carried a 12-10 lead to the seventh, and that was when the Lady Panthers were able to add three insurance runs. Devynn Harris hit a solo home run in the inning.
In the state title game, Navajo jumped out to a quick lead after the first inning. Am-Po held a 1-0 lead in the first after a Muncy base hit. Navajo then scored seven runs in the bottom half of the inning and did not trail again.
Am-Po eventually made the score 8-4.
With Am-Po down 11-4, Haugland homered again to make the score 11-5. The Lady Panthers trailed by five before Navajo extended its lead to eight with a three-run home run.
Am-Po was looking for the sweep after winning the Class A state title in the fall. Despite the loss to Navajo, the Lady Panthers were crowned academic state champions in Class 3A prior to the team’s win over Strother.