By Joseph Garcia
BURNET – With one final district game on their schedule, the Lady Panthers looked to put an exclamation mark on their 25-3A Championship with a win on the road against rival Burnet last Friday.
With the way the sun shines in the afternoon at the Burnet Bulldogs’ softball field, the first baseman was blinded for the first few innings. In addition to the sun, gusts of wind up to 15 mph were blowing in from left field. But with the playing field even, the Lady Panthers came out on top with a 7-1 victory to close out the regular season.
Liberty Hill (9-1, 21-7) scored its first three runs in the second inning that included just one hit by Kourtney Bevers and three throwing errors to first base. The errors led directly to the Lady Panthers’ runs. The Lady Dawgs committed six errors in the loss.
Burnet came out in its half of the second inning and scored its only run of the game in similar circumstances.
After a Burnet walk, the next batter reached on a dropped ball by Paige Holland at first base due to the direct sunlight in her eyes. An RBI single by the next batter would score Burnet’s lone run of the game to make the score 3-1.
“I thought we played well and a little bit on our toes,” said Liberty Hill softball Coach Charice Hankins. “We had a couple of errors that gave up a run, but overall I thought we did well. Paige Holland at first base said she couldn’t see anything coming from the direction of the pitcher.”
The Lady Panthers went on to score four more runs, which was more than enough for Bevers on the mound. She collected win No. 11 in a two-hit, eight strikeout performance.
Bevers also led Liberty Hill at the plate, going a perfect 4-4 that included a triple. Courtney Weems went 2-4 at the plate, including a double, with three RBI.
With the regular season over, Coach Hankins is looking ahead for warm-up games and playoff scenarios. The Lady Panthers have a whole week off before playing in a warm-up game Friday, April 27.
“We have a warm-up game against LaGrange, in LaGrange,” Hankins said. “Then we’ll come back the following week and hopefully play another (warm-up game) Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.”
For the first-round of the playoffs, which will be played Tuesday, May 1, Liberty Hill has a bye. Hankins will use the time to get catcher Kyli Herman (foot) healthy. Kyli has been out since March.
But whether it is Herman or Payton Walker behind the plate, the Lady Panthers have narrowed down their playoff opponent to two familiar teams.
“We will play the winner of La Vernia and Somerset,” Hankins said. “(But) they will not play until Tuesday of next week, and then we will play at the end of the week.”
The site and exact date of Liberty Hill’s first playoff game is still yet to be determined.