AUSTIN -- Sometimes the last three outs are the hardest to achieve. Woden found that out the hard way Wednesday morning.

Normangee scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally for an 8-7 win over the Lady Eagles in their Class 2A semifinal at Red & Charline McCombs Field.

The Lady Panthers (31-4) will meet either Albany or Bells at 3 p.m. Thursday for the state championship.

Woden, which was eliminated in the semifinals for the second consecutive year, finished its season at 24-7.

“They did an awesome job, worked hard. We just came up short," said Woden coach Kim Cox.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Normangee's Lexi Harris grounded a single between the hole at third base and shortstop, scoring Mikayla Merkel for the game-winning run. All four of the Lady Panthers' runs in the seventh came with two outs.

Haley Ross singled home Ashlyn Teran to the cut the Woden lead to 7-5. Hannah Morton followed with a walk, and Merkel ripped an RBI single to left-center to trim the deficit to a run.

Shelby Knippa walked to load the bases, then Maci Sanders drew a bases-on-balls that tied the game, 7-7. That stage for Harris' game-winner to left field.

“I thought that strike zone got awfully small right there," Cox said. "Things just didn’t go our way. We didn’t get some close pitches to go our way, and that’s tough on a pitcher.”

Teran went 3-for-4 with three RBI's and two runs scored to lead Normangee. She also went the first 6 1/3 innings in the circle, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits.

Knippa (16-3) relieved Teran in the top of the seventh and escaped a bases-loaded jam, leaving Normangee's deficit at three runs.

Woden sent 11 batters to the plate in its six-run fifth inning, which gave the Lady Eagles a 7-4 lead. Reese Taylor, Amber Allen, Meagan Johnson, and Calli Rhodes all drove in runs in the fifth.

“They’re not a group that gives up, and that’s why they came back," Cox said of her team.

After each team scored a run in the first inning, Normangee broke through with three runs in the third. Teran produced a two-run single, and Madison Light doubled home a run to give the Lady Panthers a 4-1 lead.

Allen suffered the loss for Woden, allowing five runs on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. She struck out two and walked five. In all, Woden pitchers issued eight walks to Normangee.

Taylor and Johnson led Woden at the plate with two RBI's apiece, while Madison Christopher and Briley Watkins each went 2-for-4.

Woden could find itself back at the state tournament next season. The Lady Eagles lose just one senior to graduation, Calli Rhodes.

“They’ve improved tremendously," Cox said of her team. "I couldn’t ask for a better group.”

Normangee 8, Woden 7

Class 2A State Semifinal
At Red & Charline McCombs Field, Austin

Woden            100    060    0    --    7    11      0
Normangee     103    000    4    --    8    13      3

Pitchers and catchers

  • Woden: Amber Allen, Reese Taylor (1), Allen (2) and Meagan Johnson.
  • Normangee: Ashlyn Teran, Shelby Knippa (7) and Haley Ross.

WP -- Knippa (16-3).
LP -- Allen (6-3).

Doubles

  • Woden: Taylor.
  • Normangee: Teran, Madison Light.