By Taylor Grafft
The Liberty Hill Lady Panthers Softball team battled the cold weather on Monday night to defeat the Wimberley Texans in their season opener and start their season off with a bang — literally. The Lady Panthers had two homeruns and some dominate pitching by both Sam Junkin and Nicole Theim to start 1-0.
The Lady Panthers cut the cold, wet game short when they scored their 10th run in the bottom of the fifth inning and forced the run-rule to end it.
“I was happy with our opening game,” said Coach Charice Hankins. “We had nine hits and our defense only gave up one hit, while the pitching was good, too.”
It only took five pitches to push across the Lady Panthers’ first runs of the 2014 season. Joely Williamson hit the first pitch she saw deep to right-center field, scoring two runs following Lynsey Mitchell drawing a walk to start the inning.
Junkin struck out 10 of the first 11 batters she faced and pitched a no-hitter in 4.0 innings, striking out 11 total batters. Theim came on in relief for one inning and made quick work of the Texans’ lineup to secure the shutout for Junkin.
Junkin showed the crowd that she isn’t just a dominant strikeout pitcher, but also an all-around asset to the Lady Panthers’ team. She hit a 2-run homerun in the bottom of the third inning to push Liberty Hill’s lead to seven runs.
“It was pretty cold, and I thought it was important for us to be strong and tough, and get through this first game, and look good,” Coach Hankins said. “I didn’t want to look like the weather was going to take us out of our game. Our kids played tough, and took care of business in five innings and got the runs we needed to get out of the cold. The kids said they felt good and were excited about the first win of the season.”
The Lady Panthers will host their first Round Robin Tournament at the new Softball Complex on Feb. 13-15. Several top teams are expected to attend the tournament as the Lady Panthers test their skills against some of the top teams in the state.
Coach Hankins says she is looking forward to hosting the Round Robin tournament and also looking forward to warmer weather.
In the Lady Panthers’ dominating victory, Liberty Hill pushed their third and fourth run across after an error by the Texans’ third baseman allowed Delaney Red to reach home from second base.
Following Junkin’s homer in the third inning, the Panthers waited until the bottom of the fifth inning to score their final three runs to end the game early.
Alexis Zamarripa garnered a base-hit up the middle that scored Nicole Theim and Alyson Sulak from second and third base. In the next at-bat, Lynnette Clarke singled to centerfield and scored Zamarripa.