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Panthers bid farewell to seniors
LCHS Seniors0429web
Liberty County High School baseball coach Steve Cotrell is flanked by seniors Erik Mattingly (left) and Robert Walsh. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon
Friday night, Liberty County High School’s baseball team honored its two seniors Erik Mattingly and Robert Walsh in a ceremony before the Panthers hosted South Effingham.
Unfortunately, the Panthers could not send the seniors off with an upset win, losing 8-7 to Region 3-AAA south champion South Effingham in eight innings.
The loss for the Panthers was indicative of their season — blowing a late lead.
The Mustangs (14-9, 8-2) scored two runs in the seventh inning to tie the game at 7. They scored the go-ahead run off a wild pitch in the eighth inning.
As for the seniors, Mattingly went 1-for-5 with a double and 2 RBIs and Walsh had a hit.
Mattingly batted .363 and Walsh batted .310 for the season.
Cotrell had high remarks for both seniors, saying they exhibited leadership and will be hard to replace.
“I wish I had eight or nine Roberts and Erik’s,” Cotrell said. “They showed up every day to practice, never made excuses and never talked back. You just don’t replace kids like that.”
“The hard part is for some of these young kids to accept the leadership of the older guys,” Cotrell continued. “The older guys have been through the battles and know what it takes to step out on the field and compete on a daily basis.”
Mattingly is a two-year letterman for the Panthers and is expected to play at South Georgia College in Douglas next year.
“He fits in with my personality and expectations on how to play the game and what’s needed,” Cotrell said. “He’s done whatever I needed — catch, play second, play short, play third, pitch — he will do whatever it takes to win and it’s hard to find guys like that.”
Walsh, a four-year letterman, is expected to play at LaGrange College next year.
“Robert has been like a son to me. Several nights he’s stayed at my house,” Cotrell said. “He means a lot to me and to the program. It will be hard to replace Walsh.”
The Panthers finish the season fifth in the sub-region at 4-6 and 9-14 overall.
Thursday, the Panthers lost 13-9 to Pierce County, who’s in first place in Region 2-AA.
The Panthers trailed 6-1 after four innings, but took the lead 9-7 after the sixth inning.
Pitching woes and Bear hitting doomed the Panthers as Pierce scored six runs in the top half of the seventh to re-take the lead.
Walsh’s two-out hit in the bottom of the seventh was all the offense the Panthers could muster.
“I thought the young guys did a great job and made some plays and I felt like our older guys let us down,” Cotrell said after the game. “They weren’t mentally prepared to play. A couple of upperclassmen had a chance to shine in the end and they didn’t get it done.
Cotrell said the late-inning loss summed up their season.
Nine of the Panthers’ 14 losses came after LCHS was leading after five or six innings.
Cotrell, however, is excited about the young players stepping up to the plate, particularly Eddie Chipple and Cody French.
Chipple had a big hit and French played well at shortstop.
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