With summer here, it only seems logical to play baseball. Liberty County High School is doing just that as the Coastal Panthers took to the diamond Wednesday to kick off its 32-game season, which lasts until June 23.
Coastal coach Steve Cotrell said summer is when then players make their leaps and bounds and he already has seen some improvement.
“I’ve seen improvement in their arm strength and approaches at the plate,” he said. “Some of the kids are learning more of the facets of the game and a few of the young kids have come a long way.”
In the opening game, the Panthers lost 6-5 to Richmond Hill.
All 12 Panthers received playing time as Cotrell mapped out who would play where and for how long before the game.
The Panthers had some good at-bats, with several hard-hit line drives. It’s just that they hit them right at Richmond Hill and the Wildcats made the stops.
“Richmond Hill turned three double plays to take us out of some big innings,” Cotrell said. “We also did not throw strikes. In the first inning, we walked two and hit two and in the third, we walked three. You can’t put people on base.”
Although it’s summer, Cotrell said this is not the time to relax or be lackadaisical.
“I have three or four younger guys who have really stepped up and I have nine rising seniors and just because they will be seniors does not mean they will start or play next season,” he said. “They better show up this summer. This is a try-out and they have to pick up the intensity.”
The Panthers are hosting the Coastal Georgia Shootout, which started Thursday and lasts until Saturday.
Four teams, including Bradwell, Long County, Brantley County and Benedictine, join the Panthers in the round-robin showcase. Calvary Day School originally was going to attend, but they are playing in the Class A state championship this weekend.
In the shootout, Cotrell said the older players would play three games with the younger kids playing the other two. The Panthers play Benedictine twice, including last night.
Coastal Georgia Shootout Schedule
Friday, 9 a.m: Liberty vs Bradwell
Friday, noon: Bradwell vs Long
Friday, 3p.m: Brantley vs Liberty
Friday, 6 p.m: Benedictine vs Brantley
Friday, 9 a.m: Long vs Liberty
Friday, noon: Brantley vs Bradwell
Friday, 3 p.m: Long vs Brantley
Friday, 6 p.m: Bradwell vs Benedictine
Friday, 9 p.m: Liberty vs Benedictine