CHIBANA RECREATION AREA, Okinawa — Two of the last players off Kadena’s bench played the most important parts in the Panthers’ run to a sixth straight Okinawa Activities Council district girls softball title.

Nicole Mikaio singled to lead off the seventh and Melanie Moore singled in the tying and winning runs with two out as the Panthers rallied from a 6-1 deficit to edge Kubasaki 9-8 in Friday’s Game 3 of the best-of-three OAC championship series.

"I’m proud of the team," coach Ken Hudson said of a group that came back from an 8-2 deficit on Thursday to nip the Dragons 11-10 in eight innings after scoring four runs in Wednesday’s 10-6 Game 1 loss. "They played with heart. I knew they could do it. They’ve been coming back all year."

Moore, who batted 4-for-4 with three RBIs in the series, entered the game in the sixth inning, singled and scored on Monica Hayes’ two-run homer to cut the Dragons’ lead to 8-6.

Mikaio’s seventh-inning single made her 3-for-6 with three RBIs in the series. Ariel Hezlip and Megan Maraia then reached on errors, setting up Moore’s game-winning single to left. Maraia stumbled over third base, but got up and beat the throw easily.

"We had to send her," Hudson said. "We weren’t going to try for another hit. That was it."

Hayes pitched a complete game for her second victory in the series; she started and lost the opener, then won Thursday with five innings of relief. Carrie Thompson-Davis lost for the second straight night; she pitched every inning for Kubasaki in the series.

Scott Rouch contributed to this report

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now