Drought is over for Lady Panthers

Posted Monday, Apr. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The drought is over for the Colleyville Heritage softball program. Once viewed as an afterthought, first-year coach Allison Conaway has restored some credibility and energy.

Colleyville Heritage (14-10, 10-4 in District 6-5A) made the postseason for the first time in five years by finishing in a two-way tie for second place with Irving. Coaches from District 5-5A and 6-5A met in Grapevine on Monday to determine playoff matchups and other particulars. Hurst L.D. Bell earned the district championship. The regular season concluded this past Friday.

The Lady Panthers and Lady Tigers flipped for second place prior to the meeting. The Lady Panthers won the toss and are the No. 2 seed. They face Flower Mound Marcus in a best of three series beginning on Friday at home, followed by a Game 2 on Saturday at Coppell (Marcus’ field is under construction). Game 3, if necessary, will be at Coppell on Monday; all game times are scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Conaway embraced the challenge of returning this program to a competitive level. She did the same at Haltom for the previous 10 seasons.

“This was just the right situation for me,” she said. “We hired the right assistant coaches who could help with the pitching and got the community excited about the game. There’s no reason why this school can’t be good at softball. This season was a step in the right direction.

“When I took this job, I thought we had a shot [to reach the postseason]. I went out and watched the girls this summer. We had the vision that we could be a good team.”

This softball season has produced some wild offensive scores so the pitching numbers have taken a pounding. Sophomore Fallon Dean has been credible for this team with a 7-4 record and ERA of about 4.00. Freshman Chloe Martinez has been solid as a No. 2 pitcher, going 4-0.

Offense is how the Lady Panthers made their way into the postseason. For the season, this group hit .414.

Junior catcher Hailie Henson was both stellar behind the plate and in the batter’s box.

Conaway said she did a great job working with both Dean and Martinez but then delivered at the plate as well, hitting .366 with five home runs and 38 RBIs.

She had tremendous support from junior third baseman Tess Eby, who hit a team-best .595 with six home runs and 39 RBIs. Left fielder Reagen Dumar hit .525 and Emily Clontz batted. 471.

Grapevine update

The Lady Mustangs (12-13, 8-6 in 6-5A) finished fourth and made the playoffs, but coach Steve Bottoms called has called the season very “up and down”.

Grapevine will play a single-game postseason round against Flower Mound in the Class 5A Region I bi-district playoffs. The game will be at Keller Central at 7 p.m. on Friday.

While the offense reached new levels, Bottoms didn’t have overpowering pitching. Grapevine set a single-season record for home runs by a team with 21. The previous record was nine.

“We swung the bats, but keeping people from scoring was a huge challenge,” Bottoms said. “I think the reason pitching has struggled is that everybody has had a year to work with the pitching rubber being moved back from 40 to 43 feet. That makes a difference because the batters get to see the ball for one added split second.”

Senior catcher Brittany Perkins is closing out a phenomenal career. She set the single-season home run record with eight and has the school career record with 17. Perkins will be playing in college at UT-Tyler.

Meanwhile pitcher, MacKinzie Hill, who will be playing in San Antonio at Division III Trinity, hit five home runs. Freshman third baseman Cynthia Haugh leads the team in batting at .529. She also hit six home runs.

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