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 Elmore County's Maci Curlee fields a ball to first base against Leeds on Thursday.

For the first time since 2014, the Elmore County softball team put together a 21-win season after finishing off the year with one more win at the East Central Regional in Oxford on Friday. The Panthers matched the combined total of wins they had the last two seasons with a 15-1 win over Dallas County in the consolation bracket before seeing their season come to an end against Leeds.

“That’s obviously more than we’ve had the last few years,” ECHS coach Kim Moncrief said. “I’m proud of them for that and we have a lot to build on now. The ones coming back are still young and there is a lot that can be done in the next few years.”

Elmore County (21-16) held a 2-1 lead in the middle of the fourth inning against Class 4A No. 10 Leeds during the first round Thursday. However, a crucial error on a bunt led to two runs for the Greenwave and started a four-run inning the Panthers could not recover from. Leeds added five more runs in the final two innings at the plate to defeat Elmore County, 10-3.

Madelyn Becker finished 2-for-4 at the plate and had a two-run single for the Panthers in the third inning to put Elmore County in the lead early. Mackenzie Lewis had three hits in three plate appearances for the Panthers.

“She had a great regional tournament for us,” Moncrief said about Lewis. “She was catching a lot and really turned it on at the plate the last few games. She’s a great leader on the field for us.”

Maci Curlee pitched a complete game for the Panthers, allowing 13 hits and five earned runs in six innings.

After falling in its opening game, Elmore County had its backs against the wall entering play on Friday. The Panthers responded with a big statement, defeating Dallas County 15-1 in five innings. 

Ebone Pierson scored three times in the win, leading a charge of six different Elmore County players with multiple runs. Madison Britt finished with three RBIs, upping her season total to a team-high 43. 

Curlee got the start in the circle again and pitched four innings before being pulled to conserve pitches for the rest of the tournament. She finished with seven strikeouts while allowing just three hits and one unearned run. 

“She was steady all year long for us,” Moncreif said. “She did very well and she’s only going to get better. Next year, she’s going to help us bring a lot back because she’s a hard worker.”

Northside racked up 17 hits and 23 baserunners to end the Panthers’ season with a 15-3 defeat Friday. Elmore County had the lead in the second inning but the Rams had four innings with at least three runs to pull away with the win. 

Elmore County took an early lead when Madison Britt scored on an RBI single by Mackenzie Lewis in the second inning. Northside responded with three runs in the top of the third to take the lead.

“They just started hitting the ball well and that’s a good job by them,” Moncrief said. “We couldn’t answer with our bats. We would hit the ball but it would be straight to them or pop ups.”

Becker got one run back with an RBI on a sacrifice fly to center field while an RBI single from Eleanor Watts tied the game. Northside then outscored the Panthers 12-0 in the final four innings of the game to end Elmore County’s season.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.