Liberty County finished last baseball season 14-9 overall and 6-4 in Region 3-AAAA, according to maxpreps.com. The record propelled the Panthers into the first round of the state playoffs.
This year, there is reason to think they can match or better that record.
Panther baseball coach Tony Glazer said his team lost three starters from last year, but is returning its entire pitching crew.
“Colby Rhea, Aric Albertson and Vincent Brunelli were our top three pitchers last year, and they are coming back,” he said. “Our closer, Jacari Roberts, is back as well. So we have all our pitchers back from last season.”
Glazer said the Panthers have just a few spots to fill in the field but, otherwise, the team looks solid.
“Our first baseman, shortstop and third baseman are back from last season as well,” Glazer said.
And defense is poised to be the strength of the Panthers, the coach said.
“I think our strength right now is our fielding, and the area we can improve on is to be better contact hitters,” Glazer said. “We don’t give ourselves much of a chance if we don’t make contact with the ball.”
Glazer said a few players have moved up from JV. He noted the the junior varsity team will be freshman-heavy this year.
“Last year on JV, I had eight eighth-graders. Now, this year, my JV is basically two eighth-graders, 10 ninth-graders and one 10th-grader,” he said.
At the top of the Panthers to-do list is making sure they are prepared to take on the top two teams in the region, Wayne County and Thomson.
“It is pretty much the same schedule we had last year, maybe one or two games different. But Wayne County is still the team to beat. Thomson will be tough too,” Glazer said.
Thomson scored two shutouts against the Panthers last year. Wayne County scored a shutout and a 10-run win in the last two matchups.
Wayne County made it all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to Cartersville last year.
Glazer said the action starts with a scrimmage at Long County at 6 p.m. Thursday. On Feb. 18, the Panthers host McIntosh County Academy at 5 p.m. and Portal the following day at 6 p.m.