May 20—OXFORD — Abbey Steward held Pisgah scoreless for 10 innings, but it wasn't enough for Spring Garden to score a victory Wednesday during the Class 2A state softball tournament at Choccolocco Park.
It was that kind of day for the Panthers.
Despite an outstanding performance from Steward in the circle, Spring Garden couldn't muster any run support against the Eagles, falling 1-0 in an elimination bracket game after dropping its opener to Orange Beach 3-1 earlier in the day.
Steward walked Pisgah's Hannah Duncan with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning. After Duncan stole second, Briley Worley hit a comebacker to Steward. The ball deflected off her glove, throwing Spring Garden's defense off long enough for Duncan to race home for the game-winning run.
"They fought until the end, and you can't say that we didn't give it our all, we didn't walk off the field giving it 110 percent, because I felt like they did today," Spring Garden coach Ann Welsh said.
Steward allowed one run on eight hits and three walks over 10 1/3 innings against Pisgah.
"I felt like their lineup ... were just great hitters, and it was a fight the whole time," Welsh said. "She did a really good job of hitting her spots and keeping them guessing."
Unfortunately for the Panthers, Kennedy Barron was even better. The Pisgah senior allowed eight hits and two walks over 11 innings pitched. She struck out 10.
Spring Garden's best chance to score came in the top of the seventh inning. Layla Ingram came on to run for Kylie-Grace Wood after she singled with one out. Ingram advanced to second on a single by Madison Brown and then to third on a fielder's choice. Maggie Jarrett popped up to shortstop to end the inning.
"Our hitting, we just couldn't get back-to-back hits or feed off each other," Welsh said.
Steward and Brown led Spring Garden with two singles each. Avery Steward, Abbie Woods, Bri Boles and Wood each had one single.
Spring Garden finished the season 26-12, but the future looks bright. The Panthers have a young team with only Wood set to graduate.
According to Welsh, only three players from this year's roster had previous playing experience at either regionals or in the state tournament. She hopes the Panthers' two-game stay in Oxford will be beneficial in the future.
"We've got six eighth-graders, so now they have a foundation," Welsh said. "They know what it's about and what it takes and what it feels like to lose and wanna be eager and come back and not have that feeling again next year."
Orange Beach 3, Spring Garden 1: Neely Welsh finished with two singles and scored the Panthers' only run of the day in the bottom of the second inning after a bunt single by Brown. Ace Austin, Woods and Jarrett had one single each for Spring Garden.
Abbey Steward allowed three runs on nine hits and three walks over seven innings pitched. She struck out six.
Teagan Revette's solo home run in the top of the third inning put Orange Beach up 2-1 and proved to be the winning run. The Makos added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning after Daigle Wilson's single plated Revette.
Orange Beach starter Justine Henderson picked up the win, allowing six hits over seven innings pitched. She struck out four.
Assistant Sports Editor Jared Gravette: 256-235-3572. On Twitter: @Jared_Gravette.