A new and improved version of ace Alana Comstock surfaced in the Lady Panthers' two wins during the Class 2 District 7 Tournament.

The Palmyra softball team has used two pitchers all season long, but a third has shown up in the postseason.

A new and improved version of ace Alana Comstock surfaced in the Lady Panthers' two wins during the Class 2 District 7 Tournament.

Not that the old version of Comstock was bad, but the junior has stepped her game to a new level in the last week.

Thanks in large part to the help of personal pitching coach Sam Waters, Comstock has a new motto for her postseason version.

“These past couple games, Sam has told me I need to get my intensity up,” the junior said. “He said I need to come in with ‘bad intentions’, which means going up there with no mercy and giving it all you have.”

She’s done just that.

In 11 innings of work this postseason, Comstock has struck out 19 batters and allowed just three hits and no runs. She fanned a season-high 14 batters in Monday night’s 3-0 win over Highland to capture the Lady Panthers' first district championship since 2012.

“Probably, by far, the strongest start and strongest finish to any game she has thrown,” Waters said of Comstock's 2-hit shutout Monday night. “She doesn’t have a natural killer instinct, but we saw it tonight. I absolutely could not be more proud of her.”

With the district championship game being rained out on Saturday and pushed back to Monday, Comstock took full advantage of the extra days. She was able to get a workout in with Waters on Sunday. It was also the birth of her new motto.

“We really just worked on her exit from the pitching rubber with what we call bad intentions,” the pitching guru explained. “It’s really just to instill upon her to stay ahead in the count and if she does happen to fall behind, not to lollipop one up there trying to get a strike. Those are the ones that will beat you in a close game. We just wanted to work with coming off the rubber each and every pitch with bad intentions.”

Perhaps the greatest example of Comstock excelling in her new approach was the way she handled Highland’s biggest offensive threat, Becca Scott.

The intimidating Lady Cougars slugger entered the district tournament with a .518 average with seven home runs and 40 RBIs.

Scott went 0-for-4 with a trio of strikeouts on Monday against the Lady Panthers ace.

“Alana absolutely undressed her at the plate,” Waters said of the way his pitcher handled the Highland star. “She changed speeds and did a nice job of changing the height of her (Scott) head and eyes. Alana had her guessing the whole time.”

Comstock missed most of last season due to illness and injury. A lingering shoulder injury hampered the first part of this season for Comstock. Waters mentioned “poor mechanics” attributed to the shoulder injuries. He believes the bad pitching form is a thing of the past now.

“There was a little grinding in there (shoulder) still in the beginning of this season and I told her it was all caused by the mechanics of her arm,” Waters said. “We have worked, worked and worked on her arm circle and it has shown here at the end of the year. You can tell she is getting stronger and faster. I clocked her at 62 (miles per hour) on Sunday, which is top shelf for any pitch in the state. She has put in all the work and I couldn’t be more happy for her.”

Lady Panthers coach Jill Arch said Comstock is also pitching with more confidence now.

“She is just so confident and very mentally tough,” the Lady Panthers coach said. “What separates her from many other pitchers is she doesn’t let the game get to her. She is capable of picking up her teammates when they are struggling.”

Such was the case Monday night. The Lady Panthers defense committed four errors. But it didn’t affect the way Comstock went right after hitters.

“I knew my defense would be there to pick up me when I needed it the most,” the hurler said.

With 14 of 21 outs coming on punchouts, Comstock didn’t need much help.

Monday night’s performance is something Waters knew Comstock had in her ever since the two have been working together over the past several years.

“She’s brought it back full circle,” Waters said. “She’s become a very dominant pitcher. I always knew that dominant pitcher was in there. Kudos to her for all her hard work. I love it. I absolutely love it.”