Softball gearing up for district run

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

The Panther softball team played seven games in seven days as they continue to work on improvements ahead of the district schedule.

Liberty Hill was 4-2 in that stretch with one incomplete game in tournament play against Cedar Ridge due to time limitations.

In the six games prior to the Tuesday 8-2 loss to East View (12-2) – averaging just over eight runs per game and allowing under three – the Lady Panthers plated 44 runs and pounded out 57 hits.

Focal points such as hitting behind runners in scoring position and hitting to the whole field are paying off.

“I’m really proud of our offense,” said Head Coach Kristen Brewer. “The offense has stepped it up as far as being a little bit more aggressive, being more pitch selective, waiting to hit their pitch, even when they get down. We’re working on getting people around the bases one at a time.”

The top single-game offensive showing came off the bat of Abby Covington who hit for the cycle in a 16-1 win over Crowley. She was 4-for-4 at the plate with seven RBI and a run scored. Through the first six games last week she had nine runs driven in on nine hits.

Leanna Limon and Ashton Dirner served as top of the lineup catalysts throughout the week. Limon had 11 hits, scored 10 runs and drove in two, while Dirner finished with 10 hits, nine scored and six driven in through the six contests.

Kinsey Kuhlman had six hits, five runs scored and four RBI, while Lauren Macias drive in eight on seven hits.

Kaylyn Revere had five hits and Lilly Naschke drove in five.

Brewer likes what she sees at the plate, but also on the base paths.

“We’re being super aggressive, and there have been a couple of times we’ve been overly aggressive, but I’m not upset by that by any means,” she said. “We’re reading other players and we’re trying to take everything we can get.”

In spite of the wins and big offensive output, the pitching this season continues to be a focus of improvement.

“We’re not where we need to be right now,” Brewer said. “We need to get stronger in that category. We’re still working to get tougher everyday and we’ve changed our workout, changed our warm ups and are trying to see early on what’s going to be the best fit for us and this team this year.”

In 27 and a third innings pitched over the first six games last week, Liberty Hill surrendered 25 earned runs, 35 hits and walked 30 against 31 strike outs.

Covington notched three wins, her best outing in the win over Crowley when she allowed one earned run and walked three while striking out six.

Cheyenne Floyd picked up a win over Lubbock, surrendering six hits and walking three, while fanning six.

The grind will continue this week as the Lady Panthers play in tournament action this weekend in Leander before hosting bowie at home Tuesday. For Brewer, the early season load is all part of getting her team ready for district play.

“It’s going to build our grit and our mental approach,” Brewer said. “You may feel a little bit tired, but you have to give 100 percent to each game. It will make our team pull together a little more through our highs and lows. They have to learn how to work through a situation whether it be an inning during a game, or maybe a whole day.

“We need to continue working together, being there for each other, to back each other up,” Brewer said. “We have to keep that fight, which is something we’ve been improving on over the last two tournaments and really understanding what that means.”

When the pitching catches up with the early-season offense, Brewer knows this team will accomplish great things.

“We need to be more consistent in the circle,” she said. “Our offense a lot of times right now is keeping us in games, when it should be winning them. I have no doubt we will get there, but that’s where we’re struggling right now and we need to pick it up before we get into district play.”

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