Carolina Forest seeks first Class AAAA state title tonight

Win or lose, the Carolina Forest High softball team’s dream season will come to an end Monday … weather permitting.

That’s become the operative phrase in the Lady Panthers’ Class AAAA state championship series with Hillcrest. Rain has claimed more games (two) than either team (one apiece) in the best-of-three series, with the deciding Game 3 slated for 6:30 p.m. Monday at Blythewood High.

After last Monday’s Game 1 was a washout, the Lady Panthers made the cross-state trek to defeat the top-ranked Lady Rams by a 1-0 score. Carolina Forest senior Rachel Lembcke pitched a two-hitter and the Lady Panthers returned home looking to close out the series at home on Thursday.

But another rainout pushed Game 2 back to Friday, and the Lady Rams used the extra time to turn the tables on Carolina Forest. Hillcrest hammered Lembcke and reliever Emily Merriam while the Lady Panthers played uncharacteristically poor defense in a 7-1 rout that forced Game 3.

As is the usual practice, Carolina Forest has not yet announced whether Lembcke or Merriam will get the start Monday, as coach Susan Minchew usually makes the call minutes before game time. The Lady Panthers get the chance to bring home the school’s first team state championship at the Class AAAA level.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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