|Palmer looks to even score with McLeod|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
May 11, 2005 - BIRTHRIGHT - The leadership and dedication of senior Lacie Palmer has guided the North Hopkins Lady Panthers into the Class A, Region II quarterfinals against the No. 3-ranked McLeod Lady Longhorns tonight at Mount Pleasant High School.
The senior pitcher looks to avenge a 1-0 loss to McLeod last year in the regional semifinals after the death of teammate Scarlet Thompson in an automobile accident.
"That is what the whole team is fueling off of right now since we didn't get to beat them last year," Palmer said. "It is making everybody play harder this year because I think we want it a lot more this year than we did last year."
Palmer is the daughter of Max and Teresa Palmer, and said she is wanting to work in sports medicine. She will have two college tryouts this summer at Ranger Junior College and Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant.
The dedication of Palmer was visible Monday afternoon when following their annual senior trip, Palmer and classmate Sara Weir stayed after school and went through practice in preparation for the quarterfinal match-up.
"Monday, we came back from our senior trip and instead of going home we stayed and had practice. We try to work harder to show everyone else how hard we want them to work," Palmer said.
"We just are going to be focused on this game because if we don't win then this is going to be mine and Sara's last year, and I think the rest of the team knows that this is important to us."
Coach Jim Westbrook said the Lady Panthers had never made it to the playoffs before Palmer showed up on the varsity team the past three years.
"I have never really taken that into consideration, and I don't look at it just being because of me because the whole team works hard together," Palmer said.
The previous two years, the Lady Panthers finished the season as the district champions, and this season they were forced into a playoff for second place with Simms James Bowie and won 9-1 April 26 in Mount Pleasant.
"This season has not been like I wanted it to be for us because for the past two years we got first in district and this year we didn't. So, that was a disappointment even though we got in the playoffs," Palmer said.
Palmer said for the Lady Panthers to get to their ultimate goal as the state champions, the team needs to work on their hitting and focusing on the task at hand every game they play for the remainder of the season.
"We need to do a lot of hitting because that is our main part that we need to work on right now," she said. "Our fielding and everything is great, but we don't have the confidence that we need in our batting right now. I am just going to focus on each batter and try to get them out and if I can't, then I know the rest of the team will be there behind me."
Palmer will be in the circle tonight against McLeod, and she said she feels very confident about the way she has been pitching this season for the Lady Panthers.
"I thought it was a lot better for me this year than it was for me last year. My velocity and my speed is up this year and I think I have more confidence in my different pitches this year," Palmer said.
"It makes me feel good to hear that I am doing well for Coach Westbrook and it makes me work harder to know that he is proud of what I have been doing."
With a win over McLeod, NHHS (17-9) faces Ector in the Class A, Region II semifinal next week. Ector beat Valley View 13-0 in their regional quarterfinal match.