Panthers open season with loss to Lumpkin County

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The Panthers may have had some early season jitters in its first match of the year as they fell 11-4 to Lumpkin County High School. Head Coach Tommy Fountain described their loss as easy things that went completely left field.

“[The issues were] walks and errors; we walked 16 and made eight errors. Baseball is a simple game of catching and throwing. When you can’t catch it or throw it, you don’t deserve to win and things get ugly. Basically, that’s what happened the last three innings,” said Fountain.

Coleman Barbee, the starting pitcher for the Panthers, is a freshman who performed well in his first game at the high school level. Fountain was proud of Barbee’s performance and didn’t think he played timid.

“If he was nervous, he didn’t show it. He went three innings, gave up one earned run on two hits with five strikeouts. That’s not a bad stat line for a 14-year-old kid throwing his first ever varsity game. We took him out because of his pitch limit, not because he was struggling,” Fountain said.

Fountain doesn’t feel the need to press the panic button yet; he knows the potential and level of talent on the team and said they must learn how to, “stop the bleeding when something goes wrong.” Fountain also noted their loss wasn’t necessarily because of Lumpkin County’s performance.

“With all due respect to Lumpkin County, Wednesday night was not so much a result of what they did, but rather what we didn’t do. We talk a lot about not giving away freebies. We obviously have to get better at that,” stated Fountain.

Despite the loss Fountain found positive things to harp on and is looking for his team to utilize more of their strengths in the future.

“We did a good job running bases and putting pressure on them when we got on base, so I was pleased with that. Sometimes in baseball, the perfect storms happen and a game gets away from you. Unfortunately, that happened to us on Wednesday but we’ll be fine. We’re gaining valuable experience and getting better each day. We played pretty decent baseball for three innings. So, it’s obvious we’ve got the potential to do some positive things; we’ve just got to finish what we start,” said Fountain.

Jackson County will return to the diamond this Friday evening at 5:30 against Central Gwinnett High School.