HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Permian enters season with high expectations

Permian softball coach Kristin Williams had high expectations for the program when she took over for the 2015-16 season.

The Lady Panthers didn’t disappoint, reaching the regional quarterfinals before falling to Lubbock Coronado, 2-1, in a best-of-3 series.

Now, with the 2017 campaign in full swing, the only thing that has changed is the calendar — the expectations never will.

“There are always going to be expectations with this program,” Williams said. “The players know what is expected of them and they expect to be competitive and they work hard.”

That work ethic will be on display at 7 p.m. tonight when the Permian hosts Alpine in the Lady Panthers’ home opener at Ratliff Softball Complex.

It won’t be, however, Permian’s first action of the season.

The Lady Panthers already have been working hard, battling through pool play and the championship bracket to earn a runner-up finish at the Hanks-Ysleta ISD Tournament in El Paso last weekend.

Permian (4-2) lost the opener in pool play to El Paso Eastlake and then won four straight before falling, 9-7, to Eastlake in the title game.

Both Miranda Martinez and Savannah Brooks saw time in the circle throughout the tournament for the Lady Panthers, with Martinez tossing a perfect game, with 13 strikeouts, against El Paso Riverside Friday night in the quarterfinals.

“Both Miranda and Savannah did a good job,” Williams said. “Savannah really has been working hard and had good movement on her pitches.

“And Miranda, throwing the perfect game, that’s always special.”

Using their strength in the circle is something that the Lady Panthers likely will rely on early in the season as Williams watches a young infield mature through tournament play.

Sophomore catcher Hannah Banker is back and is one of four sophomores that Williams has on the infield this season, with senior first baseman Abigail Pawlik there to help calm things down.

Offensively, Permian fans, and opponents, can expect a lot more of what the Lady Panthers put on the field last season — working deep into counts, stealing bases, manufacturing runs.

Williams will have an abundance of speed at her disposal and will not be afraid to use it.

“I like to run and put pressure on the defense,” she said. “We are going to be aggressive on the bases like we were last year and I think we are a little faster this year that we were last year.

“It’s the way I’ve always coached and we have a team that can do it.”