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Panthers Open 2018 Campaign 1-2

Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan has started the 2018 softball season 1-2.  The Panthers lost defending State champion Bishop Neumann and Centennial on Saturday in Geneva.  On Thursday, the short-on-numbers Panthers downed Blue Hill 13-3.
FC/E-M couln't get anything started off Cavilier pitcher Hadley Chvatal who fanned six and allowed just one hit. Forty of Chvatal's 56 pitches were strikes.  Lead-off hitter Josie Kresak had the only Panther hit.  Kalisha Gergen and Jacy Schlueter combined to pitch the four innings for FC/E-M.
“They are the defending state champs and a very typical Bishop Neumann team," Panther head coach Aaron Lauby said.  "You have to limit the big inning against a talented team like that and we were able to do so until the fourth.”
The Cavaliers plated five runs in the top of the fourth.  B/N scored three in the first inning and lone runs in the second and third.
The match-up against Centennial was tied through five innings.  Kresak was a solid 3-for-3 at the dish for the Panthers and scored FC/E-M's lone run on a crazy play at the plate.  Jayda Gaston had the Panther's other hit on a 1-for-2 effort. Schlueter struck out two and allowed only eight hits.  She also walked four on 105 pitches.
"Coach Polk has a talented group," Lauby said.  "Lots of experience, depth in their pitching staff, speed and power.  They are going to win a lot of games this year in Class C.  For us to play them pitch for pitch for five innings plus makes me very pleased with our progress.  Right now we can be a solid team for 3-5 innings, but obviously we are going to have to keep improving if we want to finish games on the winning side of the scoreboard.”
“We had some girls play really well today.  Josie Kresak hit the ball extremely well all day, Kalisha Gergen gave us some quality innings against Bishop Neumann, and Jacy Schlueter pitched a really efficient game against Centennial.  We are not going to be a conventional team this year, we are going to have to be creative at times with our pitching staff, our defense, and really just trying to figure out our best formula to be successful.  It has been a lot of fun so far trying to figure it out.”
The Panthers began their 2018 campaign with a 13-3 win at Blue Hill.  FC/E-M scored two runs in the first inning; four in the third; two in the fourth and ended the contest with five in the seventh inning.
Kresak led the Panther bats with a 3-for-5 performance and scoring three runs.  Schlueter was 4-for-5 at the place with a home run.  Gergen went 3-for-5 agaist the Bobcats and scored a run.  Cailtin Murphy was 2-for-4 at the dish with a run scored.  Kayla Geiger, Gaston, Sydney Simacek; Georgia Meyer and Kelsi Gaston all belted hits for the winners.
Schlueter threw all sevening innings for FC/E-M, striking out 16 and walking seven.  She allowed only one earned run last Thursday.
“We aren’t a young team but we are inexperienced, especially in the infield," Lauby said. "We did a lot of good fundamental things tonight. Had some really good base-running moments, good bunting, and offensive production.  We have a lot of work to do defensively.  Every pitch, every inning, every game that should get better as our girls get more comfortable with their newer roles.  We made our share of mistakes but we didn’t allow Blue Hill to have a big inning, we limited damage which is going to be a key for us all season.”
“Jacy Schlueter pitched seven innings and struck out 16 batters.  This win moves her in to fifth all-time in school history for wins.  She really had to compete and show some toughness through some difficult situations.  I’m really pleased with the job sophomore Georgia Meyer did behind the plate handling Jacy for the first time in a high school game.”
“We have a lot of work to do and I know the girls will put the work in as we enter a very grueling part of our schedule.”
The Panthers hosted 3-1 Fairbury on Tuesday and Saturday's home tournament has 4-1 Twin River; 3-1 Raymond Central and 2-2 Ord in it.