KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Aubrey Weatherbie hit a grand-slam to highlight a five-run fifth inning as the Paola Lady Panther softball team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat Piper in the Class 4A regional championship game.

Paola won its third consecutive regional title, scoring 10 runs on 16 hits Monday, May 13.

“These girls have worked very hard all season,” Paola coach Sherry Ball said. “It's been a tough season with a lot of learning curves.”

The Lady Panthers have been guided by five seniors who lead by example, Ball said.

Seniors setting the tone for Paola this season are Grace Lopez, Hannah Menefee, Dailey Mitchell, Maggi Morgan and Halle Schindler.

“Our five seniors have done a great job leading their team,” Ball said. “We have had to come from behind in a few games. That just shows this team's never quit attitude.

“It's very cool to see some different ones step up and get those clutch hits like Aubrey Weatherbie and Alexis Chapman, who have been a couple to do that more than once."

Kierstan Weitze pitched the complete game, allowing six runs on nine hits. She struck out nine. Weitze threw a no-hitter against Atchison in a 15-0 shutout victory to advance to the finals.

“Kierstan has done an amazing job on the mound for us this year,” Ball said. “We didn't really give her many opportunities to pitch last year, so coming out and throwing like she has this season just tells you how hard she works off season.”

Paola (16-6) will play Clay Center (19-1) in the opening round of the state tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23 at Bill Burke Complex in Salina.

Weatherbie had a big game in the regional championships. She was 3-for-4 with a single, a double and the home run. Weatherbie drove in six runs and scored twice.

Menefee went 4-for-5 with a home run. She drove home two runs and scored.

Mitchell had three base hits, drove in one run and scored twice. Alexis Chapman singled, doubled, drove in one run and scored. Kate Ediger had two hits and scored two runs. Schindler doubled. Madison Bryant singled.

Paola defeated Atchison 15-0 in the semifinals on a no-hitter by Weitze.

Weitze struck out seven and walked one. She doubled and scored three runs.

Weatherbie singled, homered, drove in two runs and scored twice. Jenna Collier doubled, drove in three runs and scored. Schindler had two base hits, drove in three runs and scored twice.

Bryant tripled, drove home one run and scored two runs. Chapman singled, doubled, drove in two runs and scored twice.

Morgan singled, doubled, drove in two runs and scored. Menefee singled, drove in one run and scored. Dailey Mitchell scored.

Schindler and Chapman each had two stolen bases.

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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