PELL CITY -- Pell City freshman Katlyan Dulaney hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to seal a 13-12 Lady Panthers victory in a Class 6A, Area 12 championship game Thursday night.
The win gave the Lady Panthers softball program its first area championship.
“It’s unbelievable,” Pell City head coach Terry Isbell said.
“These young ladies kept battling and battling when things weren’t going our way, and they somehow pulled it out. Give Pinson Valley a lot of credit. They were down a bunch of runs. That’s what makes high school athletics special. They were down a bunch of runs and battled back to give themselves a shot at winning the game.
“I’m proud of these young ladies. They can always say as long as they live that they won an area championship at Pell City High School.”
Pinson Valley entered the top of the seventh down 12-7, but a five-run rally closed the distance for the Lady Indians.
Pell City led the contest 10-2 through four frames. Most of the damage came in the bottom of the second, where the Lady Panthers capped off their 7-run surge with a 3-run homer by sophomore Brooklyn Preuss.
The Lady Panthers were gifted two of their three runs in the fourth when Pinson Valley pitchers walked back-to-back batters with the bases loaded.
Pinson Valley scored three runs in the fifth and two runs in the sixth to pull within three of Pell City, but an error by the Lady Indians defense put the Panthers ahead 12-7 with five short-lived runs worth of cushion.
Pell City pitcher Kelsey Watson started the contest and pitched two full frames with four strikeouts, but she allowed three hits, two walks and two runs.
After loading the bases in the third with no outs, Emily Butts replaced Watson inside the circle. The senior pitcher got the Panthers out of the jam with a pair of putouts at home and a strikeout. She finished out the contest for Pell City.