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Liberty softball preview: Padgett preaching patience

Tuesday, Apr. 8 | By Fred Hodge
Taylor Davidson is one of Liberty's five returning starters. --Photo by Doug Stroud
**Originally appeared April 2**

Outdoor enthusiasts hope the long-awaited arrival of warm weather will lead to a fruitful season of blooms.

Like the local flora, the Liberty High softball squad has been slow to escape the budding stage this spring, yet coach Charlie Padgett is hopeful the Eagles soon will headed for a fruitful season.

The Eagles have potential, he emphasizes, but need to refine some elements following a 0-3 start.

"We lack focus sometimes," said Padgett, after Tuesday's 8-0 loss to Fauquier. "[Errors are] always a mater of focus. You need to be able to make every regular play and make a few extraordinary ones.

"I preach to them it's a matter of execution," Padgett continued. "I want them to leave with no regrets."

Liberty has been swinging its bats moderately well, but haven't established a consistent presence at the plate inning after inning.

Said assistant coach Ryan Washington: "The ones we expected to swing well have been doing it. Hopefully, the rest will fall into place."

Padgett says he's seeing some players swing at outside pitches that aren't strikes. "We go over it over, over and over it. It drives me crazy," the long-time coach said. "I'd pitch us outside too!"

Padgett admitted nine of his 16 varsity players are sophomores or freshmen, so some youthful mistakes can be expected.

"We need to get better," he said simply.

Shortstop Leslie Bourgeois, second baseman Diane McDaniel and Emily Fitzwater at first give Liberty experience in the infield to go with pitcher Taylor Davidson, a four-year starter in the circle.

Center fielder Sadie Rynestad returns after earning first-team all-Evergreen District as did Bourgeois.

Senior Paige Pender and junior Gracie Pierce join sophomores Jerrin Garnett, Anna Sunderlin and MacKenzie Booth and freshmen Justine Sprouse, Kotney Leazer, Taeylor Mallam, Jessica Helton, Samantha Berry and Elizabeth Frazier on the team.

Liberty will not field a junior varsity squad for the second straight year.

A 5-2 season-opening loss versus King George and Tuesday's 8-0 home to Fauquier left the Eagles with an 0-2 mark in Conference 22 play.

Under the new format, teams are jumping right into conference play.

In the past, most early-season encounters involved non-district opponents which allowed teams to transition into late season games that matter more.

To advance to the 4A North Region tournament, a team must reach the championship of the conference playoffs. Both finalists advance, but an upset in the first or second round means the early end of the season.

- - - - -

Projected batting order

SS, Leslie Bourgeois, Sr.*
2B, Diane McDaniel, Jr. *
CF, Sadie Rynstad, Sr.*
DP, Jerrin Garnett, Soph.
1B, Emily Fitzwater, Jr.*
P, Taylor Davidson, Sr.*
3B, Paige Pender, Sr.
LF, Justine Sprouse, Fr.
C, Anna Sunderlin, Soph.

*Returning starters

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