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Panthers enduring tough stretch

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District play has tested the Richards High School varsity baseball team.

After opening with a 3-2 record, the Panthers have suffered five consecutive district losses. “We’re playing bigger teams. They have deeper dugouts,” head coach Bobby Conner said.

Richards suffered an extra-inning loss March 30 to Snook, with the winning run scored by a runner who reached base via a walk. The game went four hours, Conner said.

The Panthers battled back after falling behind only to commit some errors, including one at the end of the game. “We started running out of pitchers,” he said about the length of the game.

Pitching has been a weakness. The coach has been rotating about six pitchers, trying to get them experience to match up against hitters who play year-round.

Sophomore Kylie Bates tossed a season-high 60 pitches in four and one-third innings during the setback to Snook. She struck out four. “She throws a good breaking ball,” he said. “Then they start getting used to it.”

Starting catcher Abigail Fletcher also fills in at pitcher. She stole her first base of the season against Snook.

Because they are facing pitchers who play all year, the Panther batters are not hitting like they were early in the season. “We’re seeing a little faster pitching,” Conner said. “They’re more experienced. They’re throwing 70s to 80s (mph). It’s all about timing. They’re (hitters) behind the ball.”

Track & Field

Elijah Bay was a top performer at the Snook Bluejay Invitational, which was before the district meet. He won the 3200-meter run and finished second in the 1600m. Sophomore Liam Wilson was second in the 3200m and third in the 1600m.

Gabe Bender, a pitcher and infielder for the baseball team, finished fourth in the discus and seventh in the shot put.

Among the Lady Panthers, Bailey Rhodes placed third in the 1600m.