By Taylor Grafft
GATESVILLE — The Liberty Hill Lady Panther Softball team took care of business against Gatesville to pick up their fifth district win of the season and keep their perfect district record intact.
Now the Lady Panthers put their focus on round two of district play as they travel to Llano on Friday, April 4. In their first meeting with Llano on March 14, Liberty Hill won that contest 8-0. That victory was the Lady Panthers’ first win in district this season.
The game against Gatesville was scheduled to be played on March 28, but later rescheduled to Saturday afternoon due to bad weather. Despite the delay, Coach Charice Hankins and the Lady Panthers did not miss a beat and beat Gatesville 13-5 to improve to 18-5 overall.
Liberty Hill had 13 runs on 11 hits in the victory and only had one error. The Lady Hornets scored five runs on nine hits and had four errors.
Junior pitcher Sam Junkin started the game for the Lady Panthers, but ran into some trouble early in the game and was relieved by Nicole Thiem in the third inning.
Thiem (9-1 record) pitched the remainder of the game and struck out six batters over five innings pitched, while only allowing three hits.
At the plate, the Panthers were dominant and almost everyone on the team contributed in some shape or fashion.
Alyson Sulak finished with a triple, a single, and two RBIs. Lynsey Mitchell finished with two singles and three RBIs. Payton Walker finished with two singles and two RBIs.
Baylie Bevers finished with two singles and three RBIs. Kelly McKenzie finished with a double and an RBI. Lynette Clarke also finished with a single and RBI.
The theme at practice this week has been to focus and take one goal at a time. The coaches have stressed to the players all week that in round two of the district schedule, teams will be trying extra hard to trip the Panthers up and get their revenge. It’s a situation that the Lady Panthers have been familiar with for a long time under Coach Hankins, but that doesn’t change the fact that this year’s team must take care of business and win every game just like Panther teams of years past.
The coaches have been preparing the players with extra batting practice and simulating how each pitcher will be different in their approach the second time around.
One of the main aspects the coaches are focusing on is making sure the players are consistent in the three areas of the game—hitting, fielding and pitching. So far the Panthers have been stellar in all three aspects, but know that the remaining five district games on the schedule are just as important as the first five.
The Liberty Hill Junior Varsity Softball team will not play Llano on Friday because the school does not field a junior varsity squad. Therefore the Varsity game will start a little earlier than normal at 6 p.m.