Patriots not happy with 3-1 win over Thunderbirds

April 2, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

By Greg Farrar Miranda Bukantz, Liberty High School catcher, grins as she prepares to put out Haley Newton, of Sammamish, on a double play, to retire the side March 28 during the third inning of the Patriots’ 3-1 win over the Totems.

By Greg Farrar
Miranda Bukantz, Liberty High School catcher, grins as she prepares to put out Haley Newton, of Sammamish, on a double play, to retire the side March 28 during the third inning of the Patriots’ 3-1 win over the Totems.

If the Liberty High School scoreboard was functioning during the softball team’s matchup against Sammamish, it would have shown a 3-1 victory for the Patriots.

The March 28 win against the Totems didn’t feel like much of an achievement for the Liberty coaches and players, though.

“We won, but we really didn’t win,” first-year Liberty coach Zach Bartholomew said. “Mentally, it was a disaster and to play in this league, you’ve got to be better than that.”

The Liberty softball program has had a lot of success through the years, making several state tournament appearances, including a ninth-place finish last year. As a result, the Liberty coaches and players hold themselves to a higher standard.

That’s why the mental miscues, including missed signs and poor pitch selection, were so frustrating for the Liberty head coach.

“We can come out and hit with the best of them, we can throw with the best of them, we’ve just got to get the mental side of the game to be perfect,” Bartholomew said.

One Liberty player that showed a great deal of mental fortitude was sophomore pitcher Sydney Hopper, Bartholomew said. Hopper held Sammamish to one run in seven innings, allowing just three hits with eight strikeouts.

“When I talk about mental toughness, she is what we want everybody else to be,” Bartholomew said. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on around her, she’s going to do everything she can. She’s going to throw her heart out, and from a sophomore, you can’t ask for more.”

While Hopper continued to throw strikes from the mound, the Liberty offense struggled to string hits together. After five innings, the game was tied, 1-1.

The Patriots were able to muster just enough offense in the sixth inning, scoring two runs. Olivia Kutzke drove in one with an RBI single and Ashley Knox drove in the other with a sacrifice fly to right field.

The Liberty offense has all the potential to be explosive, Bartholomew said. Just a week before, the Patriots collected 22 hits against a tough Inglemoor team. The Liberty hitters struggled to adjust to Sammamish’s pitcher.

“It goes to the mental focus,” he said. “You’ve got a slower pitcher out there today, so you’ve got to adjust. You’ve got to sit back and be able to hit line drives and we couldn’t do it. We just managed to splint together some runs.”

The coaches weren’t the only ones disappointed by the performance. The Liberty players know they need to step up their performance as well.

“We all know we’re capable of playing much better than we did, and we just made some mistakes,” Hopper said. “It’s early in the season, but we’re going to pick it up a little bit next game.”

Liberty was without a key performer in all-league third baseman Liza Van Camp, who injured her ankle in a previous game. Van Camp is expected to return to the diamond this week.

Up next

  • Liberty vs. Bellevue
  • 4:30 p.m. April 4
  • Bellevue High School

 

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