Dave Maxwell:
Taylor Higbee gets the ball at first base to complete a double play. Pahranagat Valley opened the season last week with two 15-0 shutouts of Round Mountain.

At Alamo, Mariah Zander tossed a three-inning one-hitter in the opener, and freshman Kalee Higbee spun a four-inning one-hitter in the nightcap as the Panthers swept the Knights in the opening games of the season for the Lady Panthers softball team, a pair of 15-0 shutouts.

The first game lasted just three innings due to the 15-run mercy rule.

Morgan Harris hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning of the opener, and Jessica Brede was 2-for-2 with a triple and three RBIs for the Panthers.

Zander set the Knights down in order in the top of the first inning, then the Panthers proceeded to hammer Round Mountain with a seven-run outburst in the bottom of the first, plus a run-scoring triple by Hannah Castleton.

The girls put up five more runs in the second inning after Alamo’s Kaitlyn Higbee started a double play to end a second-inning threat being mounted by the Knights.

In the second game, Taylor Higbee was 2-for-2 with a triple and four RBIs for Pahranagat Valley.

Again, the girls scored seven runs in the first inning. Higbee’s plate appearances accounted for driving in a run on a bases-loaded walk in the first, a single in the second and a triple in the third.

A single by Brooklyn Hanks in the third inning was a positive for Round Mountain.

On the mound, Higbee surrendered no runs on one hit in four innings and struck out five.

McKenna Hardwood took the loss for Round Mountain in the nightcap. She gave up 15 hits and struck out two. She also got the only hit for Round Mountain in the game.

Coach Mike Sparrow said, “The team did well early on. We have a good group of returners, and it was good to play a real game. Admittedly, still a lot of improvements to make. You don’t always see the improvements in a game setting, but I know what they are. Hitting is always going to be a part of that.”

He said the girls had a little bit of a break and could make the adjustments, not having had to rush from the basketball court to the ball diamond. “We were able then to adjust to the speed of pitching. Round Mountain was kind of slow. Other teams we will face will have more speed. We work a lot on trying to handle those adjustments. It’s not as easy as it sounds.”

March 15-16 is the Panthers Invitational in Alamo with five teams participating: White Pine JVs, Eureka, Wells, Pahranagat Valley High School and Beaver Dam.