Softball team suffers rare loss in district play

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Sam Junkin reaches first base and looks for the umpire’s signal in a loss to Burnet on Tuesday. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Sam Junkin reaches first base and looks for the umpire’s signal in a loss to Burnet on Tuesday. (Kathy Canady Photo)

By TAYLOR GRAFT

BURNET — The bus ride back to Liberty Hill probably felt a little strange for the Liberty Hill Panther softball team on Tuesday.

That’s because their players and coaches aren’t accustom to losing, especially in district games.

The Panthers haven’t lost a district game in softball since the 2011-2012 season.

When Liberty Hill fell to Burnet 2-1 in extra innings on the road Tuesday, you can bet it left a bad taste in the teams’ mouth and probably even made them a little angry.

April 24 is likely circled on each of their calendars.

That’s when the Bulldogs come to town for the last district game of the season. The April 24 rematch has several storylines that come with it as well.

It will almost certainly be the matchup that decides the district title race. It’s Senior Night for the eight players that will be playing in front of their home crowd for the final times in their high school softball careers. And of course it’s a rivalry game.

The Panthers can’t look ahead just yet because they still have four more district games between now and then (with three of those games on the road).

With every game—whether it’s a win or loss—Coach Charice Hankins says her team tries to take away any lessons they can to make them a better team the next time out.

“We try and learn something from every win and loss,” Hankins said. “We intend to use this loss as motivation and focus. We want to make sure we come out on top the next time around.”

Liberty Hill was ranked third in the latest TGCA Softball poll before their loss to Burnet.

In Tuesday’s game, senior Lynsey Mitchell scored the Panthers’ only run when she took advantage of her teammate Payton Walker stealing second base. Mitchell got a good jump from third and came home on the throw to second; Walker was also safe.

The teams were tied after seven innings, 1-1 and remained tied all the way to the bottom of the 10th inning. Burnet was able to take advantage of a few mishaps by Liberty Hill and get the game-winning run.

Mitchell finished the game with two hits, a double and single. Megan Huppee and Jenna Kieschnick also finished the game with two hits each.

Junior Nicole Thiem got the start for the Panthers and went five innings. Senior Sam Junkin relieved Thiem in the sixth inning and pitched the remainder of the game.

Liberty Hill managed to get runners on base, but struggled to drive those runs in against Burnet. They left 10 baserunners stranded in the game.

Burnet’s pitcher Makenzie Carpenter found herself in several jams throughout the game, but always managed to find a way out of danger to keep the Panthers from scoring runs.

With the loss the Panthers drop to 17-3 overall and 4-1 in district play.

Liberty Hill versus Lampasas

The Panthers defeated Lampasas 1-0 at home last Friday. Liberty Hill’s lone run came in the first inning on an RBI-single by sophomore Joely Williamson.

The Panthers garnered seven hits in the win. Senior Kallen Floyd finished with a double. While Mitchell finished with two base-hits.

Junkin got the win from the circle and went five innings. She struck out one batter and only allowed two hits. Thiem picked up the save in two innings of relief. She struck out four batters and gave up two hits.

Liberty Hill JV versus Lampasas

The Liberty Hill junior varsity softball team defeated Lampasas 11-2 last Friday at home.

Sara Mitchell recorded the first ‘over-the-fence’ home run of her career. She also tripled in the game. The Panthers had three other players hit triples as well: Kandyn Faurie, Jessika Truax, and Kassidy Jowers.

The JV team held a 11-2 overall record and 2-0 district record going into their district road game with Burnet on Tuesday during press time.

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