Softball sweeps Bandera, run rules both games

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By Keith Sparks

The Panther softball team began the playoffs on the same note they ended district play, sweeping their series against Bandera with two straight double-digit wins. Both games ended with scores of 13-2, but they’ll go down in the books as 12-2 wins due to the run rule.

Head Coach Kristen Brewer said game two was even more impressive for the Panthers than game one from a defensive standpoint.

“Our defense was a lot better, our pitching was a lot better, so we definitely improved from Thursday’s game,” Brewer said.

The Panthers jumped on Bandera immediately on Friday, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning and going up 8-0 before Bandera scored their first run of the game.

Bandera trotted out a different pitcher in game two, but Brewer said the Panthers continued to make solid contact with the ball, getting runners on base and bringing them in with smart decisions at the plate.

“They started a different pitcher and brought in that first one toward the end of the game, and we hit the second one better than the first one, but we still hit both of them,” Brewer said. “A lot of solid hits. Once we pulled ahead, we started trying to do more long-ball stuff, and she’s a little slower so we got ahead of her.”

Ashton Dirner led the way at the plate, going 3-5 with two doubles, a single, and three RBIs. Tannis Brewer went 2-3 with two doubles and two RBIs, and Kinsey Kuhlmann went 2-5 with a double, a single, and two RBIs. Carissa Garza, Ireland Sargent, and Ashlyn Revere each had two hits, as well.

Abby Covington started both games on the mound for Liberty Hill, striking out eight batters and giving up two hits, one walk, and zero earned runs in four innings. Cheyenne Floyd closed the game, striking out four batters and giving up one hit, three walks, and two earned runs in three innings.

Thursday’s game one was over in five innings due to the run rule, but Bandera was able to jump out to a 1-0 lead early after scoring in the top of the first inning. The lead didn’t last, though, as the Panthers scored two in the bottom of the first, four in the bottom of the second, and three in the bottom of the third.

Brewer said winning game one is always important, because it gives you some wiggle room if things go wrong later in the series.

“It was very important, because you always want to get the first game under your belt in case anything out of the blue happens, anything extraordinary,” Brewer said. “Make that statement, set that precedence early on. Also, from a hitting standpoint, having that confidence and knowing that you can do it.”

Tannis Brewer went 2-2 at the plate in game one with a double, a triple, and three RBIs, Sargent went 2-4 with a single, a double, and two RBIs, Kuhlmann went 2-3 with a single, a double, and one RBI, and Garza went 2-3 with two singles and an RBI.

Covington got the start on the mound in game one, finishing with four strikeouts while giving up three hits, one walk, and no earned runs in three innings. Floyd closed, coming up with zero strikeouts while giving up one hit, one walk, and one earned run.

Things got a little squirrely for the Panthers in the top of the fifth inning as Floyd ended up loading the bases and walking in a run, but Brewer said getting through an inning like that while giving up just one run should boost Floyd’s confidence moving forward.

“You’re going to have days like that, but being able to work through it, which is what we did tonight, and having our offense there to back us up is huge for us,” Brewer said. “Her big thing when we got out of it was trusting our defense. Know that your defense is going to be there. We don’t have to blow it by everybody and strike everybody out. I know she knows that, but trusting them a little more instead of looking for strikeouts, looking more to put them into ground balls, pop-outs where they barely miss, turning double plays, things like that that, which she has the ability to do, it’s just remembering in that situation.”

The Panthers will play La Grange next, who they haven’t faced at all this season, but Brewer and her coaching staff have watching enough film to know what they’re up against.

“They’re aggressive at the plate and they’ve got a pitcher who I’d say is similar to Taylor, maybe,” Brewer said. “Definitely hittable, but she’s got a little bit more movement than what we’ve seen here lately, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen during preseason. Going into La Grange, and every game here in the playoffs, we just have to make sure that we come to play and we’re ready.”

Game one of the three-game series will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2, and game two will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, May 3, both of which will be played at Wimberley High School. If a game three is necessary, it will be played at noon on Saturday, May 4, at Wimberley High School.

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