By Taylor Grafft
TEMPLE — The Liberty Hill Lady Panther Softball team, ranked third in the latest 2014 Texas Girls Coaches Association Softball Poll, secured the Bi-district Championship and moved onto the Area Championship after dominating Alvarado in a best-of-three series last week.
At press time Wednesday night, the Lady Panthers were at Glen Rose High School playing Iowa Park for a chance to move onto the next round. Unlike the first round of the playoffs, which was a best-of-three, the Area Championship was one game, winner take all. Liberty Hill was the home team in that contest and game results will be posted as breaking news on The Independent’s Facebook page with extended coverage in the May 8 print edition.
After securing a Game One, 7-3, win against Alvarado April 22, the Lady Panthers handled their business again in Game Two April 25 and won 10-0 over the Lady Indians in only five innings.
In Game Two, Lynsey Mitchell put the Lady Panthers up 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning after hitting an RBI-single to the left to score Kelly McKinzey.
Junior Sam Junkin retired the first three batters in the top of the third inning, two with strikeouts. The Lady Panthers came back in the bottom of the third inning and added four more runs.
Freshman Joely Williamson started the inning with a single up the middle. Kallen Floyd then reached first on a single to right-center field. Junkin then drew a walk to load the bases. Baylie Bevers singled to right in the next at-bat and an error by the right fielder allowed Liberty Hill to clear the bases and Bevers to score, 6-0.
Junkin again came in and shut down the Lady Indians’ offense and retired the first three batters. Junkin pitched five innings of shut out softball before Nicole Thiem came in for relief in the top of the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the fourth inning the Panthers added three more runs to the scoreboard. Junior Payton Walker started the inning with a double to deep center just missing a home run. Senior Alyson Sulak then hit an RBI-double down the left field line to score Walker, 7-0.
Williamson then grounded to third but Sulak was able to advance to third base on the play. Floyd then stepped up to the plate and hit an RBI-single to left-center to score Sulak from third.
The Lady Panthers would add one more run in the inning when Megan Huppee reached on an error by the third baseman. Floyd was able to score on the error and made it 9-0.
Thiem then came into pitch the fifth for Junkin and faced only four batters before getting out of the inning. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Lady Panthers needed only one run to end the game and move onto the next round.
Haylee Park reached on an infield single to left to start the inning. Delaney Red then singled to left in the Lady Panthers’ next at-bat. Macy Kirk then stepped up and bunted a ball down the first base line and an error by the Lady Indians pitcher allowed Park to score the tenth run.