Patriots’ softball postseason ends at district tournament
May 24, 2011
By Tim Pfarr
The Liberty High School softball team’s playoff run came to a tough ending in the first round of the 3A SeaKing District Tournament May 18 at Lower Woodland Park in Seattle.
The Patriots — the 3A KingCo Conference’s No. 4 seed — fell to Metro No. 4 seed Bishop Blanchet High School, 5-2, in a largely defensive loser-out game.
The loss brought Liberty’s final record for the year to 8-10.
It was a tough outcome to swallow for the Patriots, who racked up nine hits during the game but stranded eight runners.
“We just didn’t hit today,” Liberty coach Jessica Johnson said. “We played great defense, but we just didn’t hit. If we had put the ball on the ground more today and made them work, we would have won the game. But we were popping up.”
Both teams’ offenses were cold through the top of the fourth inning, when the Braves managed to score a run on a single to left center field. The Patriots struck back in the top of the fifth, when junior centerfielder Ana Faoro drew a two-out walk and freshman second baseman Liza VanCamp made it to first base on a dropped fly ball to third base.
With runners on first and second, junior shortstop Denise Blohowiak came to the plate. After a wild pitch allowed both runners to advance, Blohowiak hit a ground ball to third. However, the Braves’ third baseman stepped on the bag, mistakenly thinking there was a force-out on the bag that would end the inning. Faoro scored on the play to tie the game, and VanCamp made it to third without being tagged.
A foul out ended the top of the fifth, and Bishop Blanchet just as quickly regained control of the game in the bottom half of the inning. The Braves opened with a single, and after a strikeout and a fielder’s choice, they racked up five straight hits, driving in four runs.
In the top of the sixth, Liberty staged a small comeback, but it wasn’t enough to place a significant dent in Bishop Blanchet’s hefty lead.
Senior third baseman Jennifer Rucker opened the inning with a single to centerfield. Junior designated player Taylor Couty followed up with a double on a dropped fly ball to centerfield, putting runners on second and third with no outs.
Sophomore catcher Miranda Bukantz hit a ground ball to the pitcher, but the Braves turned a fielder’s choice, tagging Rucker out at home. Sophomore left fielder Allison Wood followed up with an RBI single to the shortstop, but the inning ended quickly after with a strikeout and a fly out.
Although Liberty sent up its second, third and fourth hitters in the top of the seventh, it was unable to gain momentum, locking in its unfortunate fate.
“You can’t give up. You have to play a solid seven innings,” Jeffers said about how the team was unable to take down Bishop Blanchet. “Anything less than that, you’re not going to win.”
Jeffers, Rucker and second baseman Amanda Jewett are the team’s only seniors, and next year’s team will include impact players such as junior Blohowiak.
“She is something else,” Rucker said, adding that Blohowiak was her favorite teammate to play with during the season. “I’ll miss her a lot.”
Johnson said the Patriots’ softball squad will be able to build from this year’s experience to become more successful next year.
“My team has grown so much from the beginning to the end,” she said. “They’ve done everything I’ve asked them, from mental toughness to physical ability.”
However, she said the postseason caused the young team to get nervous at times.
Nevertheless, the team did have its share of great moments during the season, which Jeffers said often stemmed from the team’s chemistry.
“We get along together really well,” she said. “It’s nice to get to know people you wouldn’t know just through school. It kind of brings people together.”
Issaquah’s season ends
The Issaquah softball team was eliminated from the 4A KingCo Conference tournament May 18 when the Eagles lost to Redmond, 3-1, in a loser-out game at Hartman Park.
Heather Benjamin accounted for Issaquah’s run with a home run.
The Eagles dropped their tournament opener to Ballard, 2-1, May 17. Issaquah pitcher Brielle Bray tossed a four-hitter and struck out nine batters.
Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.