Liberty County’s softball team opens the season Monday 8 at Wayne County. The game is set for 6 p.m.
Last season, the Lady Panthers went 11-13 overall and 7-5 in Region 3-AAAA. This year however, the girls will face new region opponents, now playing in class 2-AAA.
Among the new region rivals is neighboring Long County.
“This is going to be really unusual,” Lady Panther coach Jerome Standard said. “I never in my wildest dreams thought Liberty County High School and Long County would be in the same region.”
Also in the region is Appling, Brantley, Pierce and Tattnall counties.
Standard said he has several returning players with a wealth of softball experience to make a strong region push.
Among the returners are Navia Telfair, De’Ana and Carmae Gumataotao, Kiara Edwards, Domonique Roberts, Chelsea Beverly, McKenna Tippett, Tia Anderson and Candice Blitch.
“We have a substantial amount of kids returning who understand the game and can be very strategic in their play on the field,” the coach said. “I think hitting, again, is going to be our most difficult obstacle.”
While the team lost pitcher Kathryn Carter to graduation, the Lady Panthers will still have a strong pitching rotation starting with Kaleigh Fisher, a four-year varsity player.
Standard said Fisher is still recovering from a summer injury.
“We are not sure how long she is going to be out but it is not for the entire season,” he said, noting she is still able to condition with the team. “Hopefully we will have her back before region play. We have adequate pitchers, and when we get Kaleigh, back we will be much more than adequate.”
Behind the plate, Standard said they have depth in the catcher’s spot.
“I am two deep in catchers,” he noted. “I have a new kid, Marissa Davis, and De’Ana Gumataotao, plus, if needed, Carmae is a catcher as well. We are versatile. We have the most versatile group of kids I have coached in this school. I have kids that can play all the positions and that is a huge plus for us.”
The game at Wayne County will give the coach a chance to see what each girl brings to the team and he said all will play.
“Win or lose, it’s a measurement for us,” he said. “A lot of kids are going to get a chance to play. And we will find out who plays best and we will be solid by the time we get to region play.”
The Lady Panthers will play in the Warrior Blast Tournament Aug. 12-13 in Reidsville. Then they play at local rival Bradwell Institute Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Bradwell opens its season Aug. 12 at the Warrior Blast. A Lady Tiger preview will be in Sunday’s Courier.
Lady Panther roster