LHHS Softball comes away with win on opening night

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By Keith Sparks

The Panther softball team officially kicked their season off Tuesday night with a win over Leander on a cold, wet evening that made life difficult for both teams’ pitchers. The Panthers were able to handle it slightly better than their opponent, ultimately winning by a final score of 4-3.

Liberty Hill’s ace pitcher Abby Covington pitched the entire game in the win, which Head Coach Kristen Brewer said was by design in order to build her endurance on the mound.

“She did really well,” Brewer said. “We had her pitching the whole game, because we’re trying to work up their endurance. Especially with the fact that we had to cancel some of our scrimmage games, that’s kind of affecting us going into regular season with the games that count, so we’re still working on building endurance. That was kind of the purpose of that.”

Brewer said the cold definitely made pitching more difficult, but it had the same effect on both teams.

“The cold affected her a little bit, but it affected the other pitcher, as well,” Brewer said. “Once it got dark, the temperature dropped pretty fast and it just kept going.”

One of the Panthers’ main goals this season is to finish games strong, and Brewer said they got started on the right foot in that regard Tuesday night.

“One of the biggest things we’ve talked about improving upon from last year is finishing games,” Brewer said. “Winning every inning. Last night was about having to actually prove what your talk is. We say we want to finish, but here’s the action, so now we’ve got to put it into action. That was the big test for them yesterday.”

Defensively, the Panthers were able to hold Leander scoreless in the final inning after giving up three runs in the fifth and sixth innings, combined, which Brewer said likely had to do with the rapidly dropping temperatures.

“Our defense played really well,” Brewer said. “We had an amazing catch in left field to keep runs off the board when they had runners on. Our defense was pretty solid. There toward the end, when the temperature was dropping pretty fast, there started being some bloopers here and there, some walked batters and things like that. That’s kind of how they got their extra runs, but they pretty much kept their composure.”

On the offensive end, Brewer wants her team to be more aggressive at the plate, which she saw some of against Leander, but still wants it to be more consistent.

“We wanted to be more aggressive with our bats, and we started that last night,” Brewer said. “We still have some things to improve upon as far as we want that throughout our entire lineup, not just some of it. That’s some confidence building that we still have to do, but this is a good win that’s going to carry us into our tournament this weekend, where we’re going to have plenty of time to work on things like that.”

The Panthers had multiple scrimmages canceled due to weather concerns over the last two weeks, starving the coaching staff of the opportunity to answer some questions with their lineup. While a few members of the softball team remain in basketball until the playoffs are over, Brewer will move some of her girls around to see if they fit in those question mark positions.

“We do have some question marks at some positions with the basketball girls still being out,” Brewer said. “They’re going to make a long playoff run, so while we’re missing some of those girls, we’re moving people around, seeing what’s going to be best for the team. We’ve got plenty of girls to choose from, so the tournament is going to actually give us the opportunity to look at some girls in different places other than where we’re going to plan on playing them. Being utility players, being able to move around more than just one position, that’s going to give us a chance to look at that.”

This weekend, Liberty Hill will host a softball tournament Thursday through Saturday, during which Brewer said they’ll be able to evaluate how they hit certain styles of pitching in addition to trying girls in new positions.

“We’re going to see some different styles of pitching at the tournament,” Brewer said. “We’re going to face some teams that don’t have that much pitching, and in the past, that’s been a challenge for us. We’ve been working a lot on being able to recognize the change up, making ourselves the definition of true hitters that can hit both slow and fast.”

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