Left, Emily Nieuwstraten drove in 5 runs on her birthday to key the Panthers to victory, Right, Shelby Doyal goes up for the kill. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

Panthers pounce on Chiefs to complete softball sweep

by Rob Grubbs

Two schools that are separated geographically by six miles and by three games in the region standings faced off Tuesday afternoon as McIntosh hosted Starr’s Mill in a key Region 3-AAAAA softball match-up.
The Lady Chiefs are building momentum for the upcoming region tournament, along with building an impressive new clubhouse facility, and were looking to avenge an earlier loss to the Lady Panthers. With McIntosh Senior DeLayne Rotolo in the circle facing off against Sophomore Wakana Sato, the game was close early as the Lady Panthers had a 1-0 lead after the first inning from a clutch, two-out RBI double from Laura Sellers.
The game turned quickly as Starr’s Mill third baseman Emily Nieuwstraten, celebrating her birthday, quickly turned the event into her own personal party. Emily lead an offensive explosion over the next two innings, driving in 5 runs with a double and a triple, both of which just barely missed clearing the fence. When the dust cleared, the Lady Panthers had a 13-2 lead and never looked back.
Sato pitched a complete game, holding the Lady Chiefs to 6 hits and 2 runs over 5 innings. She consistently pitched to contact and let her defense do the work. Sato got into a little trouble in the fourth, but Nieuwstraten executed the inning ending double play and fittingly, with two outs in the fifth, she made the final out of the game with a catch just in fair territory.
McIntosh coach Carlie Anderson mentioned the continued solid work of her seniors, Andie Hume, DeLayne Rotolo, Emily Blum and Samantha Coffee, who went a combined 5 for 8 for the game, including Rotolo’s two doubles. Freshman Sierra Fullerton also pitched well in relief, limiting no further damage after the third inning.
After the game, Nieuwstraten emphasized what it would take for her team to make a deep run into the postseason. “We need to continue to play together, be selfless and play as a unit.” She was quick to praise the solid performance from Sato, who got 10 of the game’s 15 outs on ground balls to her infield. With big games and the region tournament ahead, the Lady Panthers will continue to follow this strategy for success.
McIntosh will host Sandy Creek on Monday, September 19, while Starr’s Mill will travel to Whitewater on Tuesday, September 20 for a key region game.


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McIntosh dominates Starr’s Mill in pursuit of volleyball crown

by Christopher Dunn

McIntosh has another volleyball state title in their sights. The Chiefs continued their excellent season Tuesday with wins over Starr’s Mill and Griffin.
As with any Battle of the Bubble matchup, the Chiefs and Panthers battled fiercely for victory. On this night, it was McIntosh claiming a convincing win.
They defended their home court, starting by racing out to a 25-15 in the first set. As well as they played in the first set, the Chiefs upped their game even further in the second set. They raced out to an 8-2 lead and it only got bigger from there, up to 12-3 and 16-4. Starr’s Mill tried to battle back late, but could not gain much ground. McIntosh finished them off 25-9 to take the match.
“I was very pleased with our performance against Starr’s Mill,” said McIntosh coach Wendy Mabon. “We’ve been working hard in practice to improve different aspects of our game, and I saw the girls really excel in those areas.”
The Chiefs followed up the win over the Panthers with a straight-sets domination of Griffin (25-10, 25-8). The team is starting to hit its stride, but they’re not easing up.
“We have truly excellent ball control and team chemistry,” said Mabon. “We are super scrappy and never give up on any play, but we are working to improve our consistency and accuracy on offense.”
The Chiefs now sport a sterling 12-3 overall record for the year as they pursue another state title.
“I think we’re in the perfect spot at this point,” said Mabon. “We are improving every match and setting ourselves up to peak at the right time.”