By Taylor Grafft
The Liberty Hill Lady Panther Softball team, ranked third in the latest 2014 Texas Girls Coaches Association Softball Poll, traveled to Temple Junior College on April 22 to take on the Alvarado Lady Indians in Game One of the Bi-district round and returned with a 7-3 victory.
The Lady Panthers will play Game Two of the best of three series at 6 p.m. Friday, April 25, at Temple Junior College. Game Three, if necessary, will be played on Friday two hours following the completion of Game Two.
The Lady Panthers started off the game against Alvarado up 2-0 in the top of the third inning. In the bottom of the third, the Lady Indians rallied and took a 3-2 lead over Liberty Hill. Liberty Hill answered in the top of the fourth by scoring two runs and took a 4-3 lead. The Lady Panthers would add three more insurance runs in the top of the fifth inning to seal a 7-3 victory and take a one game advantage over their opponents.
With the win over Alvarado in Game One, the Lady Panthers improved their overall record to 24-5.
Last Thursday, Liberty Hill defeated Gatesville on a walk-off single by senior Macy Kirk on Senior/Parent Night to finish the season with a perfect 10-0 district record.
The perfect district record doesn’t come as much of a surprise to Coach Charice Hankins and Panther supporters as the Lady Panthers have not lost a district game since 2012. But, Gatesville definitely tested that record with the game tied 3-3 in the top of the seventh inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, senior Alyson Sulak started off a string of Panther base runners with a single up the middle with one out. Freshman Joely Williamson then reached first on a failed fielder’s choice to get Sulak out at second base. Kallen Floyd then drew a walk to load the bases and force Gatesville to make a pitching change.
Kirk then stepped up to the plate in her final home game in a Panther uniform and hit a walk-off single to score Sulak from third and give the Lady Panthers a 4-3 win.
Liberty Hill took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Williamson lead off the inning with a single up the middle. Williamson later scored on an error by the Gatesville third baseman.
Gatesville then rallied and took a one-run lead in the fourth inning. The inning started with an error by the Lady Panthers’ second baseman, which allowed a runner to reach first. The next Gatesville batter hit an RBI-triple into the gap in right field to tie the game, 1-1. Payton Walker then kept the game tied after she fielded a bunt and kept the runner from scoring at third and then preceded to throw out the runner at first.
In the Lady Hornets’ next at-bat, a sacrifice fly allowed the runner from third to tag and score the go-ahead run.
The Lady Panthers took the lead again in the fourth inning. Lynette Clarke’s single up the middle allowed Baylie Bevers to score to tie the game. Then Lynsey Mitchell doubled to the gap in left field to score Clarke for a 3-2 lead.
Gatesville tied the game in the sixth inning when Nicole Thiem walked a batter then gave up an RBI-double down the left field line. Thiem then settled down and struck out the next batter and then forced the last batter to ground out to second.
Liberty Hill finished the game with nine hits to Gatesville’s six hits. Liberty Hill finished with one error, while the Lady Hornets finished with two.
Thiem (10-1) was awarded the win after coming in for relief of Sam Junkin. Thiem pitched two innings and allowed one run on two hits and a walk. She struck out two. Junkin pitched five innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out one.
Sulak led the Lady Panthers at the plate with a double and two singles. Mitchell also finished the game with a double, a single, and a run batted in. Kelly McKinzey also finished the game with a single and an RBI. Seven Lady Panther players finished the game with a hit.