WEATHERFORD — After taking an early lead, the Bells Lady Panthers found themselves on the losing end of a 9-2 decision against Crawford in Game 1 of the Class 2A Region II final series at Weatherford Junior College on Thursday night.
The Lady Panthers (24-8) will have to win a double-header starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Weatherford Junior College to continue defense of their state championship and reach the final four for the second consecutive season.
Crawford (28-3) is looking to make it to Austin for the fourth time in school history and the third in five years. Since the start of the 2017 postseason, this was only the third playoff loss — the second in two weeks though — and Bells is 10-0 in that span when facing elimination, including its Game 3 victory last Saturday against Bosqueville.
The Lady Panthers had a 1-0 lead after the top of the first inning.
Gabby Smith walked to open the game and stole second, advancing to third on a wild throw to the bag.
Smith scored when Cheyenne Floyd reached on an error at third base. Crawford took the lead for good in the bottom of the second when the Lady Pirates produced four runs, all of them with two outs.
Kinnidy Markum reached on a dropped third strike to start the inning, followed by a pair of fielder’s choices around an error.
The game was tied when Peyton Elmore had an RBI single to right and Kyla Mach followed with an RBI triple. It was 4-1 when Joani Kohlscheen singled to left.
It stayed that way until the fourth when Crawford struck for a pair of two-out runs on a homer by Elmore. Makey Dunbar doubled and Cece Villa singled to put runners at the corners. Bells turned a double play but Elmore followed with a two-run blast to right.
Chesney Blount had the first hit for Bells with two outs in the fifth when she singled to center but was stranded there following a pop up.
In the bottom of the fifth, Markum had a one-out RBI single and Crawford eventually loaded the bases before Villa’s two-run hit to right gave the Lady Pirates a 9-1 advantage.
Bells got on the board again in the sixth. Smith singled to start the inning and went to third on an error before Floyd walked. Floyd was caught stealing for the first out and then Mia Moore singled home a run. Moore took second on a passed ball and went to third on a groundout but was stranded there.
Crawford tacked on three runs in the sixth to enact the run-rule.