NAUGATUCK — The Tug Valley Lady Panthers got back to their winning ways on Friday night against Buffalo as their offense exploded to score 10 consecutive runs to pick up a mercy-rule win by a final score of 10-2 in five innings of play.
The Lady Panthers (10-8) received another monster performance from slugger Emily Hatfield as the junior smashed two home runs, a three-run shot in the second inning and a solo shot in the fourth, and had an RBI triple in the first as she drove in five total runs on the day.
Tug Valley head coach Rocky Hall was pleased with his team’s overall performance at the plate in the win over sectional foe Buffalo, as they laced 11 base hits in the ballgame and didn’t strike out a single time.
“We’re coming together, it was a total team effort today,” Hall said after the win. “So many people hit the ball well I don’t even know where to start. Sure Emily had two shots, but as a team we just hit the ball well and if we play like that there then there isn’t anyone better in single A than us.”
Tug Valley allowed Buffalo to plate two runs in the top of the first inning as they fell behind early on but they responded by scoring three runs in the bottom half of the first inning, three in the second, three in the third inning, as well as a single run in the 4th to secure the 10-2 win.
Junior Autumn Hall, who hadn’t appeared in a game since April 26 as she has been out due to contracting COVID-19 and while nursing injury she suffered in basketball season, returned to the Panther lineup and provided a big spark for her team as she had two extra-base hits on the evening— a triple in the first and a double in the third — and knocked home a run.
Sophomore three-bagger Amelya Wellman also had two base hits on the day and an RBI while shortstop Cassidy Griffey and centerfielder Alyssa Newsome each had singles and knocked in a run.
Senior Kaitlyn Copley and freshman Haleigh Muncy each had singles and scored a run while courtesy-runner Audrey Evans also scored a run, despite playing with a broken arm, to round out the offense for Tug Valley.
Hall picked up the victory in her return to the circle as she pitched all five innings and allowed just the two runs on five hits while striking out right Buffalo batters and walking one.
With the win Tug Valley improved to 10-8 on the season and secured a season sweep against the Lady Bison, as they fell 5-4 in a game played back on April 23.
The Lady Panthers had lost four consecutive games before breaking the losing-skid on Friday night, and coach Hall said he hopes the win is a sign of his team turning the corner as they enter the final two weeks of the regular season.
“I feel really good about where we are right now, I was hoping these girls were getting ready to turn the corner and I think they are,” Hall said. “We’ve got four really good pitchers on this staff and I feel like our depth as a team is better than it has ever been. I have people who are sitting on the bench that I could probably interchange and they could have been just as affective. Praise God I think they are getting better and I’m just tickled to death.”
The Lady Panthers will have a busy week next week as they have are scheduled to play six games in five days.
They begin the week on Monday and Tuesday with games at 15th region opponents Pikeville and Pike Central before returning home on Wednesday to host Van. TVHS finishes out the week with road games at Wahama and Poca on Thursday and Friday before playing a doubleheader against Class AAA power Lincoln County and Wayne on Saturday in Hamlin.