The Manhattan Optimist Lady Indians 14-and-under softball team erupted for five runs in the sixth inning to beat the Salina Pink Panthers 10-7 and win the Twin Oaks Open Saturday at Anneberg Park.
The Lady Indians and Panthers exchanged the lead several times throughout the championship game and were tied 5-5 heading to the bottom of the sixth. Abby Whitney and Haleigh Harper singled to open the inning, and came around to score on Kenzie Smith’s double to the right-center gap.
Cara Melgares then plated Smith with an RBI single, and Ayanna Gamble powered a triple over the centerfielder’s head to score Melgares. Gamble scored two batters later on a passed ball.
The Panthers got two in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough.
Amber Hildebrand went the distance in the pitching circle, marking the second time this season that she got the pitching win in a tournament final.
Earlier Saturday, the Optimist Lady Indians earned the top seed out of pool play by beating the Pink Panthers 5-1, and the Newton Heat 6-2. In the tournament semifinals, the squad downed the Derby Herricanes 9-0.
Gamble was named the tournament MVP, hitting .667 in four games with a double, triple, home run and seven RBIs. Harper, the team’s leadoff hitter, went .633 with nine runs scored during the weekend.
Hana Tamura got the pitching wins against the Heat and Herricanes. Chelsey Henry got the pitching win in the first game against the Pink Panthers.
Other members of the Optimist Lady Indians (15-0) include Josie Hilgers and Maddi Shaneyfelt. The Lady Indians will play at the ASA Memorial Day Invitational May 25-27 in Olathe.