The North Carroll Panthers aren't ready to relinquish their county softball championship just yet.
The three-time defending champions rallied from a 6-0 deficit against Liberty with two runs in the fifth and four in the sixth before coming away with an 8-6 extra-inning win yesterday in Eldersburg.
The Panthers (10-5 overall, 4-2 in the county) stayed in the hunt for a share of the county title. The Westminster Owls (9-7, 4-1), who defeated the Panthers, 10-3, on Monday, can clinch the county championship today with a win over Liberty (7-7, 2-2). If Liberty can defeat Westminster today and beat South Carroll next week, there would be a three-way tie for the county title.
Junior center fielder Jenny Baker was the hitting hero. She came up with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the sixth and drove in the winning run with a single in the eighth. She finished the day with three hits and four RBI.
Sophomore pitcher Kandi Lippy got the job done late after having a rough outing Monday against Westminster and struggling early yesterday.
She pitched shutout ball through the last four innings and snared a line drive off the bat of Andrea Dixon with one out in the eighth.
"I'm real proud of the way the girls came back," said North Carroll coach Phil Bonnell.
The Lions built a 6-0 lead with three runs in the second and fourth innings.
The three in the second came with the help of three errors and a wild pitch, along with a sacrifice fly by Heather Lee.
Amy Wolff and Laura Veise drove in runs in the fourth. With two on and one out, Wolff hit a single to score Lee. Kari Myers, who walked before Wolff's at-bat, scored on a wild pitch. Wolff came across on a double by Veise.
The Panthers scored two in the fifth to make it 6-2. Jen Rongione and Christina Crouse opened the inning with singles, and Rongione scored on a single by Casey Rhoten. Crouse came across on a ground out by Jill Ballard.
Rongione drove in a run in the next inning with a sacrifice fly, and Crouse followed with a run-scoring single before Baker came up with a single to tie the score at 6.
It didn't look as if the Panthers were going to need extra innings after loading the bases in the top of the seventh with no out. That's when Wolff made the defensive gem of the day in center field, snaring a line drive by Lippy in medium center and throwing out Michele Jeffery, who was trying to score from third, with a perfect strike to catcher Kim Robinson.
Baker's single scored Crouse, who had opened the eighth with a single.