In a tight game, not doing the little things can make a huge difference, which was the case for Licking Valley.
The Panthers played well enough to win against visiting Teays Valley on Thursday, but not moving runners over in crucial situations, and a few defensive lapses ended up costing Panthers in a 4-3 nonleague loss to the Vikings.
“I knew coming in that Teays Valley had a nice team, and that’s the type of team you want to play to compete at the level you want to compete at,” Valley coach Mark Paxton said. “Their pitcher threw a nice game, and they did a couple of things to us that we have to clean up. But we talk about doing the little things all the time.
“We probably had four little things that either cost us a possible bigger inning, or gave up a run that we shouldn’t have given up. If we clean up those things, we probably win. But we didn’t do that. I’m disappointing in losing, but we will clean some things up and we will be back.”
Even with their shortfalls at times, the Panthers (10-5) rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Trailing 4-2, sophomore Kori Locke, who hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, led off the seventh with a double, and Shelby Robinson reached on a bunt single.
At that point, Valley looked to be in business. After a fly out to right, McKenzie Hoyt got her second hit of the game to score Locke.
But the rally was ended quickly by Teays Valley freshman pitcher Alyssa Rothwell recorded a strikeout and a soft liner to second.
“I take my hat off to (Rothwell),” Paxton said. “Her ball was up, and we went in with the mind-set with maybe a bigger swing than what we needed to do against her.
“Once we cut it down at the end of the game, we started to make some things happen. We did a good job of adjusting up there, but it was probably a little too late.”
Rothwell was solid throughout and kept the Panther hitters off balance just enough to really never let them make solid contact. She gave up six hits, struck out nine and walked only one.
Valley pitcher Shelby McCombs also had an outstanding game on the rubber. She also gave up six hits. She finished with 14 strikeouts, but walked five batters.
The game was scoreless until the third when Teays Valley (11-5) led off the inning with three straight hits, the last a two-run double. Valley responded with a run in its half of the inning on a sacrifice fly from Sierra McConnell.
Locke, who also scored two runs, tied the game at two with her first home run of the season.
McCombs gave up a lead off walk in the sixth, and that runner eventually would score on a ground out. Teays Valley added, what turned out to be an important insurance run in the top of the seventh.
“You want to play teams that are good, there’s not doubt,” Paxton said. “You want to play that competition. To be the best, you have to beat the best. This was a nice team that we faced, and they played a little better than we did.”