Panther softball barely survives Salado, bounces back in Llano
By KEITH SPARKS
After surviving their first close game in months, the Lady Panthers looked like their old selves once again with a 14-0 rout of Llano on Tuesday.
“There were a few little things we didn’t execute tonight,” said Head Coach Charice Hankins, “but overall, both pitchers pitched well, our hitters hit well, and defensively, we played pretty tight.”
Abby Covington, now 10-1 on the season as the starting pitcher, took care of the first four innings, while Amber Wiggins took care of the last two in what was yet another shutout performance by the Panther bullpen.
Though the Panthers’ performance may have looked nearly perfect from the stands, Hankins insisted that her team made some mistakes that need to be taken care of before the playoffs.
“Tonight, I told them, I said, ‘There were several things we didn’t do right, and it’s those little things we have to start executing, because tonight it didn’t play a part in the win, but in the closer games, it could be the difference between winning and losing, because everything matters,’” she said.
Joely Williamson went two for four at the plate with a home run, a double, and three RBIs, Kandyn Faurie went two for four at the plate with two doubles and two RBIs, and Jessika Truax went a perfecr four for four with a home run, a double, two singles, and two RBIs.
The Lady Panthers are now 27-1-1, overall, and an undefeated 11-0 in district play, though Coach Hankins doesn’t let their undefeated district record and number one state ranking get to their heads.
“We never talk about that first place,” she said. “We talk about winning every game, every inning. We have to stay grounded. We can’t believe all the hype. We have to play every game like it’s our last game.”
Last Thursday, the Lady Panthers played Salado in their closest district game of the season, winning by a final score of 6-3, uncharacteristic of a team that’s been blowing out district opponents each and every night.
Hankins was happy to finally be able to coach a close game, though, explaining that she enjoyed seeing how her team handled controversy.
“It was a good game. It was a good situation,” Hankins said. “Our pitching had a couple of mishaps. They kept calling Amber (Wiggins) for illegal pitches, so she had to make some adjustments. It was kind of good to see what they do in controversy.”
Wiggins pitched the first four innings against Salado, while Covington pitched the final three.
Logan Oehler went one for three at the plate with two RBIs, Carissa Garza went three for four with a double, and Ashley Gatlin went one for two with an RBI.
This Friday, April 21, the team will celebrate Senior Night, and will also honor the parents of each of the players prior to their final district game against Lampasas at home at 6:45 p.m.
“We’ll give the seniors a couple photo ops, talk about them, talk about what they’ve done,” Hankins said. “We try not to make it too ceremonial. We just want to acknowledge what they’ve done and get on with the game, because we don’t want to get emotional. We just want to acknowledge their accomplishments and let the parents know how much we appreciate them, too.”
The Lady Panthers’ first best-of-three playoff series will take place against Smithville. The first game of the series will be a home game at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 27. The second game will take place at Smithville High School at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 28. If a third game is necessary, it will take place at Smithville 30 minutes after game two.