Stanhope Elmore County softball

Andy Anders / The Herald Elmore County secured a regular season area championship Monday.

Elmore County’s softball program will host tournament play for its area next weekend.

Behind a one-hit complete game shutout from pitcher Aubrey Allen and two-RBI hits from Anna Catherine Segrest and Ebone Pierson, the Panthers clinched the regular season crown for their area with a 6-0 win against Jemison Monday.

“Jemison, they have a really good senior pitcher who did a great job tonight,” Elmore County head coach Mark Segrest said. “But I was proud of our girls. They competed every play, and got some key hits and we were able to come out with a hard-earned victory.”

Allen came within a third-inning single of tossing a no-hitter.

In her seven innings of work, she struck out six batters with no walks, and kept her team in a scoreless tie until the Panthers’ offense broke through in the third inning.

Allen’s success is nothing new for Elmore County, as she boasts a 1.74 ERA in 116.2 innings of work this season for the Panthers. But seeing its greatest pitching asset heating up right before postseason play starts gives a confidence boost to Elmore County, Segrest said.

“She’s had a couple of outings that were not quite to her standard, so it was great to see her kind of get back into the groove again,” Segrest said. “With Aubrey and with our other two pitchers, we have a really good team ERA, and so when they pitch like they’re capable of, it really gives us an opportunity in every game.”

With two outs and a runner on second base in the top of the third inning, a Kelley Green fly ball was muffed in center field to post the game’s first run.

Anna Segrest, the next batter, stepped up and delivered a two-run home run to extend the Panthers’ early advantage to 3-0.

It was her second of the season and a key momentum boost for the team, Mark Segrest said.

“I knew, being the visiting team, that we would need to punch a couple more runs across to have a chance,” Segrest said. “She got up there and found a pitch that she liked and she drove over the left-center field wall. She’s my daughter, so I was certainly really excited for her and really proud of her.”

That lead remained unchanged until the contest’s final inning, when Elmore County tacked on three insurance runs via a two-run double by Pierson and RBI single from Green.

With home field secured for the area tournament next weekend, Segrest is looking for his team to stay locked in on improving.

“Just focus on getting better,” Segrest said. “Focusing on having more quality at-bats, tightening up the defense, and most of all just playing with an aggressive attitude.”

For now, Elmore County continues its regular season against Jemison Thursday.