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Panthers rested and ready for playoffs

The Jemison softball team hopes some newfound “R and R” will give them an edge in Wednesday’s Class 4A, Area 7 tournament at Bibb Co.

Rest is part of the equation, but the second “R” is for roles, something that has changed for many Panthers. Coach Leighsa Robinson gave the team a rare day off on April 23.

“They deserved it; they deserved a rest,” Robinson said about a team that had played nine games in 10 days before this week. “They were like, ‘What is up with you? We never get a day off.’”

Robinson, with input from her players, also declined to participate in the Chilton County Softball Tournament, which concluded Tuesday. Jemison probably would have had to play the area tournament without a day off.

“I have to do what’s best for my team,” Robinson said. “When there’s a three-way tie for second place in our area and we have a chance to make it to the next round, that has to be the most important thing.”

Area tournament host Bibb Co. finished unbeaten in area play, but Jemison, Calera and Holt all ended up tied. The top two teams from each area advance to the sub-state round of the playoffs.

Besides the rest, Robinson said she feels good about her team’s chances because of some shuffling of the lineup and defensive alignment.

Catcher Shelby Lopez has moved to shortstop, which allowed Tabatha Cork to move back to her former position, second base.

“She’s an outstanding second baseman,” Robinson said. “I’m not taking anything away from Aly [Childress, who was playing second], but Tab has got two years experience on a 9th grader.”

Tanya Liveoak is now catching for Jemison, and Robinson said her bat has been a welcome addition to the lineup. Cork is hitting the ball better, as well, which could be a result of her being more comfortable in the field.

Robinson called Karli Wright her most consistent hitter this season, and Wright has been rewarded by being moved up to the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

Robinson said her players have accepted the changes.

“This team, no one has wanted to jump out and be a leader, but everybody wants to do what’s best for the team,” she said.