Liberty Hill softball team finding its groove

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By Keith Sparks

The Panthers ripped off yet another big district win on Tuesday, beating the Taylor Ducks at home by a final score of 14-2.

Liberty Hill Head Coach Kristen Brewer admitted that a controversial decision by the umpire that went the Panthers’ way had a lot to do with their second-inning surge, during which they scored seven runs.

Early in the second inning, Liberty Hill’s Ashley Gatlin was hit by a ball off the bat as she was heading from first to second, which should be an out by rule. The umpire, however, didn’t see it that way.

“Not going to lie, there was a controversial call that the umpire completely blew,” Brewer said. “Ashley knew she should’ve been out, so she started running off the field and went by me, and the home plate umpire called me and basically put Ashley back on second. I didn’t say anything, but I was like, ‘Okay, whatever,’ but Ashley knew she should’ve been out. She went back on second and their coach came out and argued it, and the umpire basically said that that’s a baseball rule, not a softball rule, going into little details and what not. It was a bad call. She should’ve been out from the get-go. Everybody knows that, but he stood his ground. After the whole big argument, they kind of deflated a little bit, so we took advantage of that momentum there.”

Brewer made sure to give her team credit, though, as they took advantage of the situation by attacking pitches early in the count, which is something she’s preached from day one.

I think we’re consciously making an effort to do that, attack the ball a little bit more,” Brewer said. “I think we’re coming a little bit more into our groove right now, which is pretty good timing.”

The Panthers’ so-called “groove” may seem like it’s hitting later than usual, but Brewer explained that a cancelled tournament earlier this season due to inclement weather forced them to miss at least 25 innings of play, which likely has a lot to do with why they’re finding that groove so late in the season.

“I’ve also thought about it a little bit, thinking something having to do with losing at least six games when we got that tournament cancelled, that’s a lot of games,” Brewer said. “You’re looking at at least 25 innings of ballgames that we did not get to play. Going through this first round of district, adding those games in, what you normally have already played kind of gets you into your groove a little bit. I think we’re starting to get that here.”

Carissa Garza led the way offensively with a four-for-four performance at the plate, including three singles, a triple, and an RBI. Ashton Dirner was the only other Panther with multiple hits, going two for three with two singles. Gatlin, Abby Covington, Kandyn Faurie, Lauren Macias, Tannis Brewer, and Ashlyn Revere each got one hit in the game, as well.

Covington pitched the first three innings of the game, coming away with the win, four strikeouts, and three hits allowed. Cheyenne Floyd pitched the final two innings, striking out three batters and allowing no hits.

The Panthers were supposed to play a non-district game last Friday against Vista Ridge in an attempt to make up for some games that were cancelled earlier in the season, but weather once again rained on their parade, forcing the game to be called after three innings of play.

Faurie hit a home run over the left field fence into the wind in the second inning, and Vista Ridge was able to get another run back in the following inning before they were forced to leave the field. Brewer said they tried to wait it out to finish what was shaping up to be a great game, but to no avail. The game will not go on either team’s final season record.

“We tried to stay and said we wanted to finish it, because it was going to be a good game, but nothing we can do,” Brewer said. “It’s not a regular district game, so it’s nothing we can really make up.”

On Friday, the Panthers will play Salado at home at 7 p.m., followed by a matchup with Llano at home next Tuesday at 6:45 p.m.

Sports@LHIndependent.com

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