Lady Panthers begin softball season with win over Rockdale

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By KEITH SPARKS

The Lady Panthers officially began their softball season on Tuesday, and they started out with a bang.
Liberty Hill beat Rockdale by a final score of 6-2 behind a two-for-two performance from senior Joely Williamson, who was also walked and hit by a pitch in the game.

The Panthers led 1-0 in the first inning by way of a run scored by Carissa Garza. Liberty Hill went scoreless in the second, then went up 4-0 in the third inning behind runs from Williamson, Kinsey Kuhlmann, and Ashton Dirner. Dirner scored again in the fifth inning, and Sam Barnett put the nail in the coffin with a run in the sixth. Willamson, Jessika Truax and Amber Wiggins each finished with an RBI.

Sophomore pitcher Abby Covington got the win on the mound Tuesday night, pitching four innings with four strikeouts and no runs given up. Wiggins finished with the save for Liberty Hill, pitching the final three innings with five strikeouts and two runs given up.

Although the Panthers gave up only two runs, Liberty Hill Head Coach Charice Hankins implied there was room for improvement on the offensive end.

Part of Liberty Hill’s struggles offensively can absolutely be attributed to the cold weather, which was listed at 44 degrees Tuesday night, but felt much colder with the wind. In fact, the game started an hour earlier than scheduled in an attempt to finish before the weather became an issue.

“The pitchers did their job and our defense did their job,” Hankins said. “I think, offensively, our hands were kind of cold. I don’t think that we really got in any hitting rhythm, but overall we did real well.”

Coach Hankins explained that one of the team’s focuses against Rockdale was finishing strong, as they had a tendency to give up runs late in games during the preseason scrimmages. They did so again on Tuesday night, giving up two runs in the top of the seventh after giving up zero through the first six.

“Just finishing things,” Hankins said regarding the team’s focus. “We need to come in and do what we do and finish, and not let people back in like that seventh inning right there, giving up two shots and two runs. That’s going to happen, but just learning how to finish it and not pitching so many pitches late in the game, and not giving those batters an opportunity to take advantage of it.”

Liberty Hill is now 1-0 on the season, and will continue at home this weekend with the Liberty Hill Varsity Round Robin tournament taking place this Thursday-Saturday. Next Tuesday, Feb. 21, they’ll play Giddings at Giddings High School at 6:30 p.m.

Sports@LHIndependent.com

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