By Taylor Grafft
This year has been a little different for junior Lynsey Mitchell as she tries to help the Liberty Hill Lady Panthers Softball team win another district title and get them back to the state tournament.
Last year, Mitchell was competing for a spot at second base and batting in the middle of the lineup. This year she has taken over the starting role at third base and is batting lead off for Coach Charice Hankins and the Lady Panthers.
Even though these changes are new and different, the junior has embraced the opportunities and made the most of them.
Mitchell has been at the top of every hitting category with her teammate Payton Walker all season long. She is one of the reasons that the Lady Panthers have started district with a 5-0 record and are steamrolling through their competition every week.
But Mitchell isn’t the kind of player to brag or let all the success go to her head. She is a team player who does anything the coaches need her to do. She describes herself as a quiet and good student off the field, but a fierce competitor and loud leader on the field.
As the Panthers’ leadoff batter, Mitchell’s main job is to get on base anyway she can, but Mitchell has exceeded that job by also driving in runs. She has hit for extra bases or home runs and come up clutch for her teammates in pressure situations. One of her best games came against rival Burnet when she hit a two-run homer to left field to put her team up 3-0 and seal the victory.
“Even though I’m leading off this year I’ve always had the same mentality no matter where I am batting in the order,” she said. “I realize that if I get on base that’s going to pump my team up and make them play better.”
At third base, the qualities and skills a player needs to possess are different from any other position. The third baseman has to have one of the strongest arms on the team and also has to be one of the smartest players. They have to know where to go on bunts, where to go with runners on base, and be ready to field because the ball is almost always hit to the corners of the field at first and third. Mitchell has embraced her new position and become successful in learning all those new skills.
Mitchell isn’t just a great teammate on the field, but she’s also helping others off the field.
Mitchell was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was in second grade and has been helping to raise money ever since. She was the youth ambassador and did a lot of fundraising for the ADA (American Diabetes Association). She also walks every year to help raise money for diabetes at Bill Burden Elementary School where her mother is a third grade teacher.
Mitchell first got into softball at a young age and started attending camps to get better. One of the camps that really helped her progress as a player, especially from a mental standpoint was at Texas A&M University when she was in sixth grade.
The College Station area is also where Mitchell was born, so she was very familiar with that program and area and says that helped her relate to some of the Texas A&M players who were coaching her at camp.
One of the key figures in Mitchell’s life who has helped her get better every day is her father. The two have come out to the practice fields and worked on hitting for many years. Her father was also her coach growing up and during the early years of her softball career.
Mitchell tries to also help out her younger teammates on varsity and even is willing to help the junior varsity players if they ever need advice or have questions about things they can work on to get better.
Even though Mitchell is only in her junior year, she has already started testing the idea of where she wants to play after high school. She said she is hoping to visit several campuses this summer in addition to participating in a select softball league with some of her Liberty Hill teammates.