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Softball begins -- Lady Panther style
Jacklyn Gonzales warms up on the pitcher’s mound during tryouts for Lady Panthers softball. She is hoping to make the pitching squad. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon


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The pinging of the bats, and the neon green balls can only mean one thing. Fast pitch softball is just around the corner.
For Liberty High School softball coach Jerome Standard and his assistant coach, Adrian Chapple, it means it’s time for the tryouts.
About 40 young women showed up for their chance to make it to the Lady Panthers’ varsity and junior varsity squads.
The Panthers go into this season with many returning players in key positions, giving them a better opportunity to make it to the regional playoffs.
“Our pitching staff is returning, so is our catcher. So our battery is in good shape, and our infield should be in good shape as well,” Standard said. “We have three other pitchers on our JV right now and one of them is very close to coming up to varsity so we are in good shape as far as the mound,” he said.
Standard said the team continues to improve each year and last year broke the school record with six wins in the season.
Having eight or nine returning players gives the team an added advantage.
“We only lost four players from last year,” he said. “The majority, around eight or nine players, is returning. We are placing the bar a little higher this year and at a minimum, we want to be in the top four to make the playoffs,” he said.
Standard said the toughest opponent facing the Lady Panthers this season is South Effingham.
“South Effingham has been the powerhouse in this region and they continue to be,” he said. “Their junior varsity squad last year could have competed with most of the varsity teams in our region. They are the team to beat,” he said.  
According to Standard, the Lady Panthers held their ground and played very competitively against Effingham last year.
“At the coaches’ meeting, their coach cornered me and told me they were very impressed in they way we played them,” he said.
In addition to having seasoned players return, Standard said another advantage is that many of the players can play more than one position effectively.
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