News-Sun file photo by DAN HOEHNE Assistant coach Heather Barnes gives some advice to Amanda Byers in a recent Lady Panther win.
published: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Lady Panthers get set for Suncoast
By DAN HOEHNE
An 18-17 non-conference record can mean a lot of things.
Some big wins, a few infuriating losses were mixed within that record, of course, but it all amounts to a learning curve.
And really, that is the sole purpose of the non-conference schedule, giving the team the time and experience to grow through the rough patches and find out what is the best way to win.
"Yes, we had a few rough games where some of the mistakes we were making, there was no excuse for," shortstop Lexi Belardi said. "It started to get in our heads and stressed us out.
"But we all got back into the mindset to just relax and play like we know how," she continued. "It's really turned around quickly, thankfully."
That seems to have been accomplished as the Lady Panthers now head into their Suncoast Conference schedule on an upward trend, winning three out of four games this past week.
Tuesday saw a road trip to face Broward and South Florida came away with a split that was close to being a sweep.
After routing the Seahawks 8-1 in the opener, the Panthers came up just short in a 5-4, second-game loss.
Thursday had the team back on the road to face a Pasco-Hernando squad that had swept South Florida on March 7 - two of those infuriating losses.
But the Lady Panthers had their revenge in taking two from the Conquistadors.
Alexis Adams got the win on the mound in the opener, a 7-5 victory, before the two teams went an extra inning in the nightcap.
But they pulled it out in the eighth, getting a 4-3 win for pitcher Gennifer Raulerson.
"The past few games we've been having fun and keeping our cool, but still doing really well," Belardi said. "So long as we keep that up, we're golden."
That is the hope, as the Suncoast Conference looks loaded.
Each team has a winning non-conference record, with the State College of Florida at 25-9, Polk State at 25-10, Hillsborough at 26-15 and St. Petersburg at 21-18.
But with the talent assembled more aware of what it takes to succeed, the Panthers look to make their mark.
"They're looking better," assistant coach Heather Barnes said. "They're starting to hit more to the right side and make the adjustments they need to win games.
"I think they're going to be a serious contender this year in conference if they come out and play to their ability."
One more non-conference game remains on the docket with a Tuesday home date against Sante Fe, with the Suncoast schedule getting underway with a Thursday visit from the Polk State Eagles.
sfsc (by: fan - 3/18/2013)
# 7 16 errors work on the game
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