SPORTS HEADLINES

Freshmen provide boost to playoff-bound Lady Panthers

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, April 28, 2012

Batting better than .400 and leading the team in RBIs and runs, Paradise freshmen Shelby Lavigne and Jett Preather made the transition to high school look easy this year.

But Preather said it only looks that way.

“It’s really not that easy,” explained the shortstop and leadoff hitter. “Especially when you want to do it all right.”

The freshmen duo have done little wrong for the playoff-bound Lady Panthers, who start the post-season Monday at 7 p.m. in Jacksboro against City View.

Entering the playoffs, Lavigne is batting a robust .518 with a team-high 29 RBIs. She has 18 extra-base hits, including two home runs.

Lavigne, who plays select ball for the Bat Busters out of Fort Worth, said she’s not been too surprised by the production.

“I knew I could hit like that,” she said.

The two home runs she hit added to what’s been an amazing year for Lavigne.

“It feels awesome,” Lavigne said about each time she hits one deep. “I have a picture on the Web of me just smiling.”

At the top of the order, Preather, who plays select for the Sweet of Fort Worth, has been just as productive. She’s batting .407 with an on-base percentage of .580. She’s scored a team-best 35 runs and knocked in 22.

Preather has hit two home runs, but she said that’s not her main job.

“I know I have to get on base,” she said. “We get on base, and [Shelby] knocks us in.”

Along with their production at the plate, the two freshmen have been solid on the left side of the Lady Panthers’ infield. At shortstop, Preather has an .800 fielding percentage with 12 errors in 60 chances.

“She’s a great defensive player,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “She catches anything.”

At third base, Lavigne has an .828 fielding percentage with 10 errors in 58 chances. Defense is something she takes pride in.

“My favorite thing is fielding,” Lavigne said.

Paradise coach Karin Essig said she’s been impressed with how the two freshmen have stepped in to play in their roles.

“We needed everyone to come in ready and play,” Essig explained. “We had a couple of places we needed to fill. They stepped up and were ready.”

The freshmen are excited about their next challenge – the playoffs.

“It means we have to make it as far every year,” Preather said.

The freshmen are proud of what they and their team have accomplished this season – easy or not.

“A lot of freshmen are wanting this spot,” Lavigne said. “We’ve stepped up and are doing our thing.”

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