The long awaited 2021 softball season hasn’t garnered desired results in the early season for the Knox Central Lady Panthers. After falling to Bell County 7-5 in their season opener, Knox Central dropped a 13-3 decision to the Cumberland Gap (Tenn.) Lady Panthers on April 3. In their first home game of the season on Tuesday, Knox Central fell to Clay County 12-5 in seven innings.
The Lady Panthers tallied five runs on seven hits, with three separate batters driving in RBI. Amber Partin led Knox Central with two RBI on two hits, in three at-bats. She was followed by Jayme Swafford and Morgan Bright with one hit and one RBI each, with both stepping to the plate three times. Partin pitched all seven innings, allowing 13 hits and 12 runs with eight strikeouts, and no walks. Abi Beller, MaKayla Hinkle, and Presley Partin added one hit each.
Knox Central coach Bethany Hensley stated that her team is still trying to find their identity, highlighting that the game against Clay County was the first time the roster was complete.
“We’re still trying to figure out our identity,” she said. “With our boys basketball team competing at the state tournament this past week, we had quite a few girls up there cheerleading. We have a nice mixture of experience and youth, and I think that will be big for us going forward.”
Underlining the combination of veterans and young players, Hensley drew attention to her veteran players and how they have been helping guide the younger players.
“The older players are helping the younger girls,” she said. “We've had a lot of early season obstacles, and with the season being canceled last season, some of the younger players have never had to experience adversity in the season. The older girls are really helping lead and guide us to where we want to go. We want to be back to where we were when we last played.”