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ACADEMICS PLUS SOFTBALL | Falcons improved over course of season

Although banged up, Academics Plus notched one more victory in the district tournament before ending the season with a blowout loss to Guy-Perkins.

After defeating KIPP Delta in a doubleheader in the final regular season contest, the Lady Falcons (3-13) met KIPP in the first round of the district tournament at Nemo Vista. Even though they had some players with injuries, they managed to let a 10-4 advantage slip to an 11-10 deficit before pulling out a 21-11 triumph in the bottom of the sixth.

“We had a lot of girls get beat up and had lots of injuries,” Academic Plus Coach Ken Holland said. “We struggled early, but hit the ball later.”

Second baseman Faith Echols played with stitches in her arm. Pitcher Bailey Kirby survived two innings before being replaced because her shoulder was too sore to continue. A slide into second base led to a hurt leg for Kendall Hardenberger.

“Madison Prime did a good job pitching for a couple of innings until she got into a mess in the fifth,” Holland said. “Bailey (who normally plays shortstop) had to catch because she could only throw the ball back to the pitcher. We were a beat up team but still won the game.”

After that contest, Academics Plus met Guy-Perkins and lost 16-0. Though the Lady Falcons wanted to forfeit that game because of the injuries, Holland told them they need to play out of respect for Guy-Perkins.

“I told them Guy came all the way over to play,” Holland said. “Because we were banged up, it wasn’t in our best interest to play. I was disappointed with Guy-Perkins. We were injured, and they talked about wanting to win 25-0. I told their coach if I heard anything else, we would load up and go home.”

Of the Lady Falcons’ 13 losses, six were because of doubleheader forfeits for various reasons to Wonderview, Nemo Vista and Guy-Perkins. Holland was encouraged by the improvement he saw from the beginning of the season to the end, and several teams commented on the advancement this year over the last two years.

Holland is also enthused about next year as he only loses one senior in Shynia O’Neal. Both Kirby, a sophomore, and Prime, a freshman, return and give Holland experience on the mound.

“I’m upbeat because of what is coming back along with some good younger players coming up,” Holland said. “We’ve improved so much, and I’m hoping we can take it to the next level. The young players coming up are already committed and could show the older ones what they are supposed to do.”

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