Liberty County High School got to host the first round of softball playoffs Wednesday afternoon. The Lady Panthers welcomed Mary Persons High School, but fell in the best of three series 2-0 and 5-0.
Both teams’ defense was unforgiving and neither yielded a hit or run in the early innings of game one.
“It was zero, zero all the way until the seventh inning,” Lady Panther coach Jerome Standard said, noting the game’s seven innings took only an hour.
The coach said a grave error in the top of the seventh inning at left field cost the girls the game. Mary Persons scored on a sacrifice hit and then a triple sealed the 2-0 win.
“They led off that inning with a single,” he said. “They were going for the one-run win, then they made a sacrifice hit and later they laid down a bunt down and then we made an error at left… They scored and pushed their runners to second and third and the next girl hit a triple and they got that second run.”
Lady Panthers Kathryn Carter and Rachel Smith were both 1-for-3. Carter pitched the tough loss, striking out five Lady Bulldogs.
In the second game, Lady Panther Kaleigh Fisher pitched three innings giving up 5 hits, 2 runs and walking a batter. Carter pitched three, tossing 4 strikeouts, allowing 5 hits and giving up 3 runs.
Standard said the Lady Bulldogs managed to smack homeruns in the second and third innings, giving them a strong advantage. The Bulldogs shut out the Lady Panthers for the 5-0 win and advance to round two.
“Bottom line is you can’t win if you don’t score any runs,” Standard said. “And you can’t make mistakes against a good team.”
The Liberty girls finish the season 11-13 overall and 7-5 in Region 3-AAAA.
“I don’t think we achieved to our potential, not just in the post season but entire season,” Standard said adding the loss in the first round was difficult. “This team on paper was capable of doing a lot more than what they did.”
Next season the Lady Panthers will have to make do without seniors Kathryn Carter, Dejah Smith, Cassidy Collum, Riley Davis, Rachel Smith and Diamond Richardson.
“We are going to miss every single senior that we are losing… They are talented players and we had a good battery with a strong pitcher and catcher and that is going to rear its ugly head next season,” Standard said, while also noting they have key returning players.
Fisher should return and keep the pitching rotation strong. Tia Anderson is expected to return to the outfield, Navia Telfair missed this season with a broken wrist but will be a strong returning veteran at second base. Chelsea Beverly will round out the returning veterans and Standard has a lot of sophomores and freshman who earned varsity playing time this season.