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Lady Indians declaw Panthers

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By Sean Arnold

The Chiefland softball team needed this one.

Coming off rare back-to-back losses bookending spring break, the three-time defending state champs were re-engaged and looking to unload some frustration last Thursday against visiting Lecanto.

CMHS bursted out of the gate with three runs in the opening frame against the Class 6A Panthers, before capturing a 7-2 win behind solid performances in all phases.

The club improved to 8-3 overall, while LHS fell to 6-6.

CMHS coach Wayne Weatherford said his coaching staff had a sit-down with the team after a disappointing loss to Union County the prior Tuesday.

“We really did not play our game, and we had a heart-to-heart talk with the girls,” Weatherford said. “We said, ‘You’ve got to be better. You’ve got to come together. Something’s not working and we’ve got to figure out what it is.’

“When we came back out (Thursday night), the girls seemed like they really took what we said to heart and changed their attitudes. Hopefully, that will show in the next couple of games.

“Even though we may not win every game, if they win with their heart and they work hard for it, it shows.”

Chiefland, which flexed some of its small-ball muscle and speed, out-hit the Panthers 10 to 1, with seven of those Indian hits coming in the first pair of innings.

Seniors Sydney Parks (HBP), Emily Hallman (walk) and Takiya London (single) loaded the bases in the first inning to set up an RBI bunt single by birthday girl Erika Gilliam, who celebrated her 17th in style.

Sophomore Macie Thomas followed up Gilliam with a two-run single

The Lady Indians produced four more runs in the fourth behind an RBI bunt from Hallman and an infield hit by London.

London, a MaxPreps All-American in 2016, is batting .538 since going 0 for 10 through her first three games. The senior finished 3 for 4 with two runs.

Lauren Parker, Gilliam and Hallman each enjoyed multi-hit nights with London, while Parks and Hallman also chipped in a pair of runs apiece. Parks leads the Indians with 16 runs scored; Gilliam and Hallman share the lead in RBIs with 11 apiece. Parker, meanwhile, has hit safely in 10 of the 11 games this season.

Despite the production, Chiefland still left 11 base runners on base, and watched a handful of additional well-hit balls go for outs or bend foul.

Sophomore ace Kensley Durrance was near perfect, fanning seven and allowing one hit and no walks in four innings. In her first appearance in the circle, Parker walked three and didn’t allow an earned run or hit in three innings of relief.

Defensively, the Indians tallied three errors, but none were committed by a starter at her regular position. Lecanto totaled eight errors.

“We made some changes tonight and we were able to play some of the younger girls,” Weatherford said. “They’ve got to play to get that experience in order to make them a little bit better.”

Chiefland plays at Crystal River Thursday March 30, then returns home Friday against Oak Hall for a makeup game. Next week features games at Dunnellon (April 3), Bell (April 4) and Williston (April 6).