Panther Baseball falls to Leander Rouse in season opener


By Paul Livengood

The Liberty Hill Panthers started the 2017 season at home with a scrimmage on Friday against the Manor Mustangs, followed by their season opener Tuesday night against the Leander Rouse Raiders.

The Panthers split the two games—defeating Manor 15-0 and losing to Leander Rouse 10-20.

Liberty Hill couldn’t find the run support early in the game against Rouse. The Raiders retired the side in the first inning. Damion Natividad led off the game with a pop fly that was caught for the out in right field, followed by strikeouts from both Turner Gryseels and Chandler Freeman in their first at-bats to end the first inning for the Panthers.

Liberty Hill found a little more success at the plate against the Raiders in the second inning, with both Nathan Flake and Tyler Russell getting on base with a walk and a base hit, respectively. However, the following two batters both struck out, leaving two runners on base with Flake in scoring position.

Gryseels got on base in the third inning, but was another Panther left on base after Flake grounded to second and was thrown out at first for the final out of the inning.

Liberty Hill finally found some offense in the seventh inning with three hits and two walks in the bottom half of the batting order. Two of the hits were to left field, one to right field and the Panthers were on the scoreboard.

Their scoring run in the seventh inning wasn’t enough to bring the Panthers back to win the game, as the Raiders 20-run production proved to be insurmountable.

Last Friday, the Panthers played a scrimmage at home against Manor, finding much more success than they had against Leander Rouse this week.

Liberty Hill scored 15 runs against the Mustangs, powered by hits from Natividad, Flake, Russell, Cheney, three walks and a base hit from Connor Thompson, and a Freeman homerun.

Although the Panthers did start on a positive note with a 15-0 win against Manor, the scrimmage had no effect on the Panthers’ win/loss record. The 10-20 loss to Rouse puts the Panthers in an 0-1 hole to start the season.

This is familiar territory for the Panthers, as they have lost their season opener the last four seasons in a row. The good news is that they’ve bounced back to make the playoffs each of those years.

The Panthers finish their home stand to begin the season with a ball game against Marble Falls this Friday, Feb. 17, at 5 p.m.

The Panthers are 4-2 against the Marble Falls Mustangs over the past five seasons, including consecutive wins in their past three matchups.