Senior baseball players aren’t done after routing Burnet on Senior Night
By Lance Catchings
After Liberty Hill dismantled Burnet 10-2 on Senior Night last Friday, some of the Panther seniors took a minute to take one last look around their home field before the playoffs begin. Senior pitcher Garrett Pogue, who got the win against Burnet on the mound, credited the fans for making Senior Night a memorable one.
“It was a fun night,” Pogue said. “We had a lot of fans that came and showed out for us. I felt like our team kept a good energy throughout the game and it really gave me confidence to throw well. We had a few bad plays defensively, but overall, we played well to get the win against Burnet.”
Pogue said simply putting the ball in play will be key for the team as they enter the playoffs against Caldwell.
“We need to start hitting the ball better,” he said. “We hit pretty good tonight, but against better teams we haven’t hit the ball as well so we really need to put it in play.”
Senior third baseman Reece Hudson came into the rivalry game holding nothing back, leading the Panthers with two hits on three at-bats, but Hudson their calling card has been their defense.
“I felt like we played pretty good against Burnet,” Hudson said. “I made an error tonight at third, but defensively we call ourselves the wall because not much gets past us.”
Hudson said as a senior, it was a special night to see family and friends in the stands supporting him and his teammates during his final home game against Burnet.
“With it being Senior Night, during warmups I was kind of jittery, not knowing what tonight held for me,” he said. “I’ve been working pretty hard, individually, in the cage, and I felt pretty comfortable at the plate. I knew Burnet was not going to be much competition. I knew they would not throw much at us. I went to the plate with the attitude I am going to give it all I have got.”
Liberty Hill holds a special place in the senior’s heart and is a great source of pride for the team. Hudson said his team needs to focus on consistency to find success in the postseason.
“It means a lot to walk off this field on Senior Night as a winner,” he said. “This town is real sports-based, and I play for my town. Without this town, we would not get to play on this field and we would not have this school. If we can keep playing like we have been playing, I don’t think we will have a problem in the playoffs.”
Senior Chase Ward, who had an RBI in the win over Burnet, said the team is coming together at the right time.
“I was really proud of our performance tonight,” Ward said. “We beat Burnet 10-2, and I felt like everyone came together tonight. When we get on a roll, it can get crazy. The momentum picks up and the team really starts going. It is amazing how many runs we can score and how many plays we can make during that time.”
Ward said his team has the ability to be among the most dangerous entering the 2018 playoffs. He also praised his underclassman teammates for their contributions, mentioning Pudge Carlisle, in particular.
“When we play like that, we show how dangerous we can be,” he said. “If we play like that in playoffs, we have the chance to beat a lot of people and make a run to State. As a senior, I love baseball and I love playing on this field. I want to give a shout out to my teammate Pudge Carlisle. He has been tearing it up at second base, and he deserves the spot. I hope he does well next year, and I hope to see him play in college.”
Senior Brady Lundy, who scored a run in the win, admitted that improvement is needed if they want to reach their ultimate goal, especially on the defensive end.
“Heading into the Caldwell bi-district playoff game, I think everyone has to step up defensively,” Lundy said. “We have had little errors, and we have to work on that to improve. We always try to come back and play strong, no matter what happens. When someone makes an error, we try to pick them up and encourage them. In the next inning, you want to come back out stronger and not make that error again. It’s sad playing on this field for Senior Night. I’ve had a lot of memories on this field and playing here has been an honor.”
The Panthers will play a three-game bi-district playoff series against Caldwell this week. Game one is played Thursday at 7 p.m. in Caldwell. Game two will be played in Liberty Hill Friday at 5:30 p.m., followed immediately by game three, if necessary.