The Liberty County softball team had a short distance to travel Tuesday when it jaunted down to Ludowici and played Long County.
But the bus ride back had to be a quiet one after the Lady Panthers fell to the Blue Tide, 11-3, in five innings.
Lady Blue Tide coach Brian Thomas has a squad that mostly is sophomores, all of whom paid their dues last year as freshman after going 5-19 and 0-8 in their region. This year, led by seven returning starters, the Blue Tide are 3-0 after beating Claxton, 9-1 and 6-3, on Monday in a doubleheader in addition to topping Liberty County.
“We expect these girls to make major contributions,” Thomas said about his veterans.
Long County freshman pitcher Harley Dawson pitched the entire five-inning game, earning eight strikeouts while allowing four hits, four walks and three runs.
According to Liberty County coach Jerome Standard, the Lady Panthers showed a little improvement in the wake of Friday’s loss at Claxton, but he said the team hit the dreaded triple-six curse.
“We walked six, gave up six hits and committed six errors,” he said.
Standard said they were a bit more stable in the outfield, but Jeresha Roberson, who hit a home run against Claxton, missed the game due to illness, which caused him to shuffle some players at the last minute.
Fielding a young team this season, Standard said it still might take a game or two to get everyone in the right positions.
“The puzzle is not close to being finished yet,” he said.
For Liberty, Gabriela Anthony batted 1-for-2 with a single, while Lori Harden had two singles and Diamond Richardson had a single. Harden pitched all five innings and took the loss.
Kaylyn McEwing led the Blue Tide by going 3-for-3, including two home runs, and notching six RBIs. Sam Garcia also was 3-for-3, Taylor Poole was 2-for-2 with two walks, and Dawson was 2-for-4.
Thomas said his team should be even stronger next season but added, “Even though people see a bright future for this group, we want to win in the present.”
Liberty heads to Tattnall County this weekend for the Warriors Blast Tournament. The Panthers play Wheeler at 5:30 p.m. tonight and North Hampsted at 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Liberty plays Portal at 9 a.m., Southeast Bulloch at 3 p.m. and Claxton at 6 p.m.
The Lady Tide were scheduled to play Thursday at Bryan County. On Monday, Long Count goes to Atkinson County for a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.