Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SPORTS >> Panthers struggling to find win in 7A East

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers continue to struggle on the baseball diamond this season. The Panthers fell 5-1 at home to Little Rock Central on Friday to drop to 6-11 overall and 0-6 in conference play.

The game was tied at one after five innings. The Tigers added one run in the sixth inning and three in the seventh after coach Jay Fitch pulled starting pitcher Dustin Morris.

“It’s just kind of the same song, second verse,” Fitch said. “We’re just having trouble scoring runs. We’re hanging in there and we’re competitive in every game, we just can’t seem to get anything going offensively.”

Morris threw a good game, but worked from behind in the count much of the night and his pitch count soared. That forced Fitch to make a change.

“He got a little tired,” Fitch said. “He was up to about 110 pitches so I had to pull him. We put a couple of sophomores out there and they struggled.”

A hit batter was followed by two walks and two base hits in the top of the seventh for Central. The result was three runs for the Tigers to set the final margin.

Though the relief pitching struggled, the main issue remains offensively for Cabot.

“Out pitching has kept us in games,” Fitch said. “I’m very pleased with our two main starters, Ryan Logan and Dustin. The consistent problem has been with the sticks.”

Cabot has just two players with a batting average above .300, seniors Bryson Morris and T.C. Carter. The other senior in the lineup is third baseman Justin Goffe. Like most of the team, he is mired in a batting slump, but Fitch believes he can work his way out of it. Goffe broke the school record for doubles in a season last year while hitting .390.

“We know what he’s capable of when he gets going,” Fitch said. “Hopefully he’ll break out of this little slump and come on for us. We’re really going to have to get things turned around in this second half if we want to get to state.”

Fitch inserted a freshman into the lineup against Central. Tristan Bulice went 2 for 3, so he’s likely to stay if he remains productive.

“He’s got some pop for a young kid,” Fitch said. “Hopefully he’ll give us a little spark, a little pop in the lineup.”

A little spark is all Fitch believes his team needs to turn a crucial corner this season.

“Confidence is down a little bit,” Fitch said. “We just need to put together a complete seven innings and get a win. Getting some offense going and getting a win will do us wonders.”

Cabot traveled to Bryant on Tuesday and will face Van Buren at home on Friday.