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Litumbe homers, sixth-inning rally lift Brookwood past Parkview

SNELLVILLE -- For most of its Region 8-AAAAA softball game against archrival Brookwood, Parkview was able to keep dodging figurative bullets.

But the No. 7 state-ranked Broncos continued to take aim, and in the bottom of the sixth, Megan Litumbe pulled the trigger.

With the tying run having already come home, the senior outfielder lined her second home run of the game -- a two-run shot to left -- that vaulted Brookwood into the lead, and pitcher Amanda Ablan held off a Parkview rally in the seventh for a 4-2 Broncos victory Thursday night at home.

One night after stranding 10 baserunners in a 1-0 loss to No. 3 Archer, Brookwood (11-7, 3-1) looked in danger of wasting scoring chances again Thursday after leaving 10 on through the first five innings against ninth-ranked Parkview (9-2, 2-1).

"In all the games that we've lost, we've left opportunities out there," Broncos coach Bill Batchelor said. "We felt like we've had a good approach, and we felt like we've done the right things to get people into scoring position. We just hadn't been able to get the big hit like we had in the past."

And through the first six innings, it was Parkview that picked up the big hit -- two of them, to be exact -- to pounce on a Brookwood error in the top of the second inning.

Amanda Chambers and Grayson West each had an RBI single in the inning, each plating an unearned run, to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.

Despite dealing with Brookwood baserunners in every inning, it looked like that might be enough for Chambers (8-2), who came up with the big pitch to escape trouble throughout the first five innings, including stranding the bases loaded in the second and fourth.

The only run she gave up in that stretch was a solo homer to Litumbe in the third, and she still seemed in control after first baseman Morgan Robinson made a leaping catch of Taylor Stercay's liner for the first out of the sixth with Parkview still leading 2-1.

But Taiylor Rinehart legged out an infield single on her grounder in the hole between short and third, and Alban laid down a sacrifice bunt that put Brookwood in business when an errant throw to first put runners on first and third with just one out.

Chambers got ahead of Litumbe in the count, but an errant pitch made it to the backstop far enough to allow Rinehart to scamper home and pull the Broncos even at 2-2.

More importantly for Litumbe, it relieved a little tension in the situation.

"It took a lot of pressure off me," the senior rightfielder admitted about the tying run having already scored. "I thought they were going to pitch me away ... the whole game. Then (Chambers) made a mistake, and I took advantage."

Indeed, Chambers caught a little too much of the plate with an inside pitch and Litumbe jumped on it, sending a laser beam of a line drive just high enough to clear the wall in left-center for a two-run homer -- her second of the game and fourth of the season -- to put Brookwood in front for the first time on the evening at 4-2.

But he Panthers weren't going to go down without a fight, especially after Ally Claytor reached on an infield single with one out in the top of the seventh.

Patty Dennison then sent a high chopper over the head of Ablan that looked like trouble, but Sam Leach ranged in from her shortstop position to make the stab and fired to first to nip Dennison at the bag for the second out, and then corralled Robinson's grounder to short for the final out to seal the win for Brookwood.

"It's just a game where you've got to play seven innings," Parkview coach Joey Farah said. "You've got to play each pitch, and we just fell short a little bit (Thursday). But our girls are resilient. I have no doubt they're going to battle back."

Litumbe finished the night 3-for-3 with a walk, including the two homers and three RBIs, while Ablan pitched a complete game for the win, limiting Parkview to just five hits and the two unearned runs while recording nine strikeouts.

Claytor went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Panthers.