Panthers look to finish district strong

By Joseph Garcia 

The playoffs draw nearer for the Liberty Hill baseball Panthers, but there is still work yet to be done.

Following their 8-7 loss at Gatesville April 19, the Panthers will want to wrap up their District 8-3A Championship on a high note when they travel to Llano Friday, April 26, for the final regular season game.

Last Friday’s defeat will not be lost on the Panthers moving forward.

“I believe we lost Friday because we came out with too big of a head and did not come through with runners on base,” said Liberty Hill senior Tyler Barrows.

The Yellowjackets may be 2-7 in district, but the Liberty Hill (8-1) players remember how close (6-4 win after being down by four) their first meeting was in Liberty Hill.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” said senior second baseman Austin Zamarripa. “We’re going to need to go to work this week during practice after Friday night’s loss. I believe we cannot take this game lightly, but I think if we do all the things we’ve been coached to do and keep our heads in the game we will win.”

Agreeing with his teammate, Barrows added that they need retell everyone who the district champions are, but he also expects a fight.

“I expect Llano to come at us with all they have being that is their last game,” Barrows said. “Last game they played us tough and I think our team will prove to them why we are the district champs.”

Representing District 8-3A in the playoffs along with Liberty Hill will be Brownwood (7-2) and Burnet (6-3).

The feeling in the “clubhouse” is that the Panthers just need to keep focused and keep improving every week. The competition is going to get better and if the Panthers feel if they keep up their hard work it will pay off.

“(Hard work) will pay off and (hopefully) we will be playing deep in the playoffs,” Zamarripa said.

Barrows believes the team is mentally prepared because they have practiced all year for the playoffs and they have an “arsenal” of pitchers ready to go.

He also believes that the loss to Gatesville may have been a silver lining.

“After the loss (to Gatesville) our team has realized we need to keep pushing to get better every day and we will be ready for the playoffs,” he said.

Right now, Coach Mike Kristan is telling the team to keep their heads up, but at the same time they need to realize that improvements need to be made across the board.

“(Coach Kristan) keeps telling us to keep our heads up, but at the same time realize that we need to keep improving,” Barrows said. “He keeps telling us that you can never be content where you are at if you want to play in June.”

Liberty Hill will host a warm up game against Troy on Thursday, May 2, at 7 p.m.