Lady Panthers prepare for Burnet, round two

Junior Payton Walker catches a strike from pitcher Sam Junkin during the Lady Panthers’ 4-0 win over Brownwood on Tuesday evening to extend their perfect record in district. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Junior Payton Walker catches a strike from pitcher Sam Junkin during the Lady Panthers’ 4-0 win over Brownwood on Tuesday evening to extend their perfect record in district. (Kathy Canady Photo)

By Taylor Grafft

The Liberty Hill Lady Panther Softball team, ranked number four in the latest 2014 Texas Girls Coaches Association Softball Poll, will travel to Burnet on Friday, April 11, and look to pick up their seventh district win of the season.

The last time these two rivals met was on March 21 in Liberty Hill where the Lady Panthers defeated the Lady Bulldogs 3-0.

Look for Sam Junkin and Lynsey Mitchell to have big games against the Bulldogs on Friday. Last time these two Panthers took on Burnet, Mitchell hit a home run and went 3-for-4 at the plate, and Junkin struck out 10 batters.

The Lady Panthers added two more district wins this week, against Llano and Brownwood, to keep their perfect 7-0 district record intact and improve to 20-5 overall.

Liberty Hill hosted the Brownwood Lady Lions at home on Tuesday night and defeated them 4-0.

In what turned out to be a defensive contest, the Lady Panthers struggled a bit at the plate early on in the game. Coach Charice Hankins’ squad stranded 11 total runners in the game. Twice in the game the Lady Panthers had a two-out, bases loaded situation (in the first and sixth inning), but were unable to drive runs home.

After struggling to bring runs home in the early innings, the Lady Panthers finally pushed a run across in the fourth inning when Kelly McKenzie hit an RBI-double that brought in Kallen Floyd.

The Lady Panthers scored their second run in the bottom of the fifth when freshman Joely Williamson hit a first-pitch homerun over the left field fence. It was the freshman’s second consecutive game with a home run after she knocked one out last Friday against Llano.

Liberty Hill added two more insurance runs in the sixth inning. The first run came on an inside the park home run by McKenzie. McKenzie hit a ball to right that dropped in play and got behind the Lady Lions’ right fielder and rolled all the way to the wall. She turned on the jets and “never let up”, in the words of Coach Hankins, and beat the throw home by two steps.

The second run of the inning came when Delaney Red scored from third after Williamson reached on an error by the Lady Lions’ shortstop.

Starter Junkin (10-4) picked up her tenth win of the season and struck out six batters and only allowed two hits.

Nicole Thiem recorded her sixth save of the season after pitching the sixth and seventh inning in relief. Thiem pitched a perfect six innings and only needed seven pitches to get out of the inning. She ran into some trouble in the seventh inning, after she allowed the first three batters to reach base safely. However, following a visit to the mound by her teammates, Thiem settled in and struck out two of the next three batters to seal the victory.

Mitchell had a solid evening at the plate against Brownwood, going 3-for-4 with a double and two singles.

In an away game against Llano on April 4, the Lady Panthers cruised to a 9-1 victory. Liberty Hill had 13 total hits and only allowed Llano to get three hits.

Junkin was phenomenal again in her start against Llano. She struck out 10 batters in five innings pitched and only allowed two hits. Thiem came in for relief of Junkin in the sixth and seventh innings. Thiem gave up one hit and struck out four batters.

At the plate, Mitchell and Lynette Clarke each recorded two singles. Payton Walker, Williamson, Baylie Bevers and Red each recorded doubles. Junkin hit a triple, and Williamson hit a homerun.

First pitch for the Lady Panthers game against Burnet is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Friday.