PEKIN – A six-run comeback is a pretty tough task for any softball team to complete during the course of a season.
That concept only made Pekin head softball coach Bryan Marley chuckle Saturday at the end of the Panthers’ home softball tournament.
“That’s not even the biggest deficit we’ve faced this week,” Pekin head softball coach Bryan Marley joked.
But it would be the biggest deficit Pekin would have to overcome to avoid losing one of their three round-robin games. The Panthers spent Saturday playing the role of comeback kids, a role they’ve become somewhat accustomed to this season.
Twice on Saturday, the Panthers stepped to the plate for their last at-bat needing a scoring rally to avoid a loss. At some point in all three of their games in their home Pekin softball tournament, the Panthers found themselves behind on the scoreboard.
But no matter what the circumstances were throughout the day, all three of Pekin’s games ended with a Panther hitter putting the ball in play and a Panther base runner scoring a walk-off run. Cheyann Lankford brought home the first walk-off run, completing the first late rally for Pekin as a bases-loaded single snapped a 4-4 tie and scored Courtney Comstock with the first walk-off run as the Panthers rallied in the seventh to win 5-4 after starting the inning down 4-3.
Down 10-4 and facing the time limit against West Branch, Pekin made its second six-run rally of the week. Back-to-back fielding errors by Bears’ third-baseman Shannon Laing allowed the Panthers to force a sixth inning by tying the game at 10-10, where sisters Maranda and Madelyn Baker drove in the tying and winning runs in a 12-11 victory.
The final game wasn’t nearly as dramatic, but it did technically feature a comeback and a walk-off hit. After giving up a pair of first-inning runs to winless Harmony, Pekin scored 14-straight runs and finished a 3-0 day with a two-run double by Emily Bemis to put away a 14-2 win on a four-inning, 12-run mercy rule.