Pampa Lady Harvesters ready for Sanger in Region I-4A regional finals

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The Pampa Lady Harvesters are in the Region I-4A championship series for the first time in 10 years. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
Pampa is playing its best softball at the right time over the last month and as a result the Lady Harvesters are the only Texas Panhandle team left standing, just two wins away from reaching their goal of the UIL Class 4A state tournament at McCombs Field on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.

To make that dream a reality, the hurdle comes in the form of a very good Sanger team in the Region I-4A championship with the first of a three-game series beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at Midwestern State University.

Pampa – which is trying to become only the second Texas Panhandle team to advance to the state tournament and the first since Canyon did it in 2017 – is making its first appearance in the fifth round for the first time in 10 years.

The Lady Harvesters (22-12 overall) placed third in a competitive District 4-4A but have caught fire since the playoffs, carrying an 8-1 record with a three-game win over Monahans followed by sweeps of San Elizario, district rival West Plains and most recently Burkburnett last weekend.

“This has been a really exciting time,” said Dottie Hawthorne who is in her ninth season as the Pampa head coach. “We have a great group and most of them have been starting since they were freshman. I feel like the hard work is paying off for them.”

Pampa isn’t doing anything flashy. Behind fundamental softball the offense has stepped up, averaging 8.6 runs a game with the pitching and defense allowing only three runs per contest.

“It’s been a long ride and I’m really proud of how we’ve responded,” Hawthorne said. “I believe against Monahans we had all the starters in the lineup for the first time in a while and you could see we were healthy and were getting it going.”

Pampa senior pitcher Kynleigh Kirby has racked up 154 strikeouts this season. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
Senior leader Kynleigh Kirby is the heart and soul of the Lady Harvesters. While this is a squad built around team, Kirby is the glue that makes Pampa go. Kirby has been lights out in the circle during the playoffs including 15 strikeouts during two wins against Burkburnett last weekend.

On the season, Kirby has tossed 132.1 total innings through 22 starts boasting a 2.85 ERA with 154 strikeouts. Not only does Kirby get it done in the circle she has a pop at the plate hitting a team-best batting average of .543 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs.

“I feel like we’re playing with a lot of motivation,” said Kirby who has over 750 strikeouts for her stellar career. “We have had a lot of adversity and we wanted to overcome it. The coaches have helped and been there for us and it’s been an overall team effort.”

As humble as Kirby is, that’s the attitude of this Lady Harvester team. Not one player is bigger than the other and a reason why the chemistry has clicked.

Carsyn Hunt has driven in 29 runs for the Lady Harvesters this season. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
Junior Carsyn Hunt is an indicator of that fact as another leader and prime factor in the lineup.

“We have wanted to prove how good we are when these playoffs started,” said Hunt, who is hitting .429 with four homers and 26 RBIs. “The bond on this team is special. We all fight for one each other and we’re motivated to get two more wins and make history.”

Kirby echoed Hunt’s comment.

“I love this team,” Kirby said. “We all bond really well. We all root for each other and even if one of us is having a bad day we just to be there for them and pick them up.”

Sanger (35-7) is much like Pampa. The Lady Indians, the District 7-4A champs, won a dramatic series in three games over District 4-4A champion Dumas last weekend to advance to the regional finals for the first time in over 10 years.

After seeing the Demonettes, Sanger head coach Toby Klower knows just what to expect in the competition Pampa will bring.

“We’ve been playing great all year and have seen some great teams,” Klower said. “We just had a great series against Dumas so we know Pampa will be just the same. Pampa has a great pitcher and we’re going to have to fight one more week.”

Leading the way for the Lady Indians is Klower’s daughter and pitcher Laura Klower. Laura, a junior, is electric in the circle going 24-4 this year with 262 K’s and a 1.71 ERA.

“I think this will be a very tough series,” Hawthorne said. “We both have really good pitching and great lineups. We watched them play Dumas and they are very talented. We will have to hit the ball.”

Region I-4A championship
at Midwestern State University

Pampa (22-12) vs. Sanger (35-7) 

Game 1: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Game 2: 1 p.m. Thursday
Game 3: 7 p.m. Friday, if necessary

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