The LCHS Lady Panthers softball team had a long day in Dublin on Tuesday as they played three consecutive games, but were eventually eliminated from the playoffs.
The team lost to Washington County 10-6, lost to West Laurens 5-3 and lost to Richmond Hill 5-3.
Lady Panther softball coach Jerome Standard said the Golden Hawks were a formidable opponent in a strong defensive game. The loss to WACO pitted the Hinesville girls against the top seeded West Laurens.
Standard said his team was still in the game, trailing by one run in the fifth inning (4-3), but they could not get the big hit they needed to pull ahead.
"They realized they were being challenged," Standard said of the Lady Raiders. "It was exciting."
In the end, however, the Raiders added another run for a 5-3 victory, placing the Lady Panthers in the loser’s bracket. Next, they faced the Lady Wildcats of Richmond Hill, who had lost to Baldwin.
"We were up 3-1 at one point in the game," the coach said. "But we ended up losing 5-3. They outlasted us, but not our talent."
Dropping to the fifth spot eliminated their playoff advancement and sent the local girls home for the season.
West Laurens clinched the Region 3-AAA No. 1 spot with an overall record of 18-7 and a region record of 7-0. Thomson is second with 20-4-1, 5-1. Richmond Hill advanced to the No. 3 spot with 14-10, 4-2, and WACO clinched the fourth spot with a record of 7-10, 2-3.
Last season, the Lady Panthers’ finished second in the region.
They will lose six players to graduation, but Standard said his battery and pitcher will return, and he’s optimistic about next season.
"We finished the last games of the tournament with only two of our seniors starting," he said. "We had juniors and sophomores finish the games and we did well."
Standard said the biggest voids he needs to worry about are the one spot in the outfield, plus third and second bases.
"Next year, it will be hard to replace (Dominique) Sibley, Karen Donaldson and (Stephanie) Cedola," he said.
Sibley said she hopes to play ball in college and Standard said she has received offers from Georgia Military College, Savannah State University and other schools.
"She’s a good kid and worked hard the entire season," the coach said of Sibley. "And it really showed."
The Lady Panthers are making plans for the banquet and awards ceremony to celebrate their season.