The McKinleyville Panthers celebrated Senior Day by clinching at least a share of the Big 5 title on Wednesday afternoon, defeating Eureka 7-4.
A class of 10 seniors were honored before the game, and all of them have played a major role in leading their team to a memorable season.
Wednesday’s win keeps the Mack girls unbeaten in league play at 10-0 with just two games remaining, and with the Loggers dropping to 8-2, the Panthers have now claimed at least a share of this year’s title.
The league championship is the program’s first since 2011, and McKinleyville can win it outright with one more win in Saturday’s doubleheader at Eureka.
The Loggers can still claim a share of the championship with two wins on Saturday.
On a wild and windy day, errors played a role in the outcome of Wednesday’s series-opener, with 10 between the two teams, seven on Eureka.
The home team struck early, scoring five times in the opening two innings, before the Loggers came alive in the top of the third.
A couple of nice defensive plays — one involving Mack pitcher McKenzie Gonsalves and catcher Olivia Alves combining to tag out a Eureka baserunner at home plate, and the second on a catch by center fielder Jada Bailey to end the inning — kept the Loggers in check in an inning that could easily have gotten away from the Panthers.
The visitors did score single runs in each of the third and fourth innings, but the home team was able to maintain the advantage and led 7-2 going into the seventh.
Gonsalves got the win in the circle, allowing just two earned runs on 10 hits and a pair of walks in a complete-game performance.
Eureka sophomore Alexa Morehouse pitched well in the loss and has developed into one of the Big 5’s top pitchers this spring.
“It was an exciting and competitive game,” Eureka co-head head Katelyn Graeser said. “And Alexa threw an absolutely incredible game.”
Of the seven McKinleyville runs, only one was earned.
“Unfortunately, we just put ourselves in position where we gave them too many runs to come back from,” the Eureka coach added.
Raime Young finished 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and an RBI for the Loggers, who dropped to 16-4 overall.
Teammate Sadie Wilkinson was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Salina Socha-Wright was 1-for-4 with a double and Sadie Hampton 1-for-4.
Alves and Lexi White each finished 2-for-3 with an RBI for Mack, including a double for Alves.
White also walked to reach base three times.
McKenna Turner added a triple and an RBI, while Theresia Dickey and Lily Thiesfeld each had a hit.
The Panthers are 17-2 overall.
Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.