Softball overcomes adversity in Leander Tourney

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

Adversity was the name of the game at the Leander ISD Softball Tournament, but through the rain, shifting schedule and injuries, the Panthers closed it out with a 3-2 record.

“Starting the tournament on Thursday we were at Vista Ridge and it was really cold, but the mix in is it was starting to rain,” said Coach Kristen Brewer. “We were trying to get our kids in the mindset that the other team is dealing with the exact same thing so it is going to be mind over matter to keep focus and want to win a little bit more.”

The start to the tournament was solid against a talented Georgetown squad.

“Abby (Covington) was pitching and she was doing a really good job of keeping their hitters off,” Brewer said. “Before everything came down we had only given up a hit or two and Lauren (Macias) was behind the plate and had already thrown out two runners, so our momentum was up, but as the rain started coming down it gets harder for everyone to focus with the cold and everything together.”

The day turned quickly when Covington took a shot back to her in the circle and was removed from the game.

“Thankfully she was okay and able to bounce back over the tournament, but a couple of plays later, we’re in the dugout dealing with Abby and Kinsey (Kuhlmann) had a slow roller hit to her – it had nothing to do with the weather – and it was just a funky hop and bad luck and it caught her right in the teeth,” Brewer said.

Kuhlmann – who got six stitches and broke two bones in her mouth – has already been cleared to practice, but Brewer said they will move ahead cautiously even though she is closer to being pain free. It is unlikely she will play before her stitches are removed.

With the rain beginning to fall harder Thursday, and two players were injured, the day was called.

“They were worried about us with two of our players down, wondering if we wanted to finish the tournament, but we thought about it and talked to the players,” Brewer said. “We needed games and we needed to play and we needed to know that we could pull together and do this even if we didn’t have a player or two.”

The schedule was shifted to playing games on Friday for the teams visiting from outside Leander ISD, while the host teams played district games that night. That meant games moved to Liberty Hill.

The Lady Panthers split a pair against San Antonio area teams Friday, falling 3-1 to McArthur and edging Steele 5-4.

Covington rebounded to pitch the contest with McArthur, striking out five and allowing one hit, but surrendering five walks.

In the win over Steele, Cheyenne Floyd put together one of two gems in the tournament from the pitching circle for the Liberty Hill staff, going eight innings, allowing six hits and striking out four without a walk.

“Both Abby and Floyd each had a game that was on point,” Brewer said. “That’s everything because right now we’re kind of riding on our pitchers and how quick they are able to come back from last season. We have no doubt that both of them will come through, it has just taken a little bit longer than it has in the past.”

The pair combined to pitch in the short game against Rouse, a 9-8 Liberty Hill win before Covington shut down Vandegrift four no-hit innings, striking out five and walking two in the 17-0 victory.

Saturday also posed challenges defensively with two key players up the middle missing in Kuhlmann and Leanna Limon who was competing at the Regional Powerlifting Meet.

“We had to fill shortstop and second base as far as moving people around to pick up for those guys,” Brewer said. “We struggled a little bit in that first inning of the first game on Saturday. The girls did very well on offense, and really opened it up Saturday and gave us momentum for the rest of the tournament.

That offense was highlighted by a grand slam by Ireland Sargent against Vandegrift. She finished the tournament with eight RBI on five hits with four runs scored.

Floyd also hit a home run in the tournament. Other offensive standouts included the seven runs scored on four hits with one RBI for Carissa Garza; six hits, six runs, and three driven in by Ashton Dirner; and six RBI on five hits with three runs scored for Covington.

Tannis Brewer had four hits, three driven in and a pair of runs, while Lauren Macias drove in four behind three hits and also scored a run.

With tournament play behind them, the Lady Panthers will face Caldwell and La Vernia this week before beginning district play March 15 at home against Burnet and being able to settle into the district routine.

“It helps with our practice schedule coming in and not having to guess whether we are doing weight room or are out on the field,” Brewer said. “Being able to have the two games a week we will be able to settle into a routine and I think it will be good for the kids being able to do a little more film, even watching ourselves and improving on what we need to do.”

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