Liberty bounced early from KingCo softball post season
May 14, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
It wasn’t the way the Liberty High School softball team expected the season to end, but after just one game in the KingCo tournament, Mercer Island sent the Patriots home May 9 with a 5-4 loss.
Just two weeks earlier, Liberty defeated Mercer Island, 7-4, but the Patriots failed to match that success during the tournament, showing more of the inconsistency that plagued the team this year.
“We’ve been preaching all year that we’ve just got to get the little things done,” first-year coach Zach Bartholomew said. “We’re going to keep working on that as a program and try to get Liberty back to where all of us know and expect it should be.”
Liberty took an early 1-0 lead after the first inning, thanks to senior Miranda Bukantz’s RBI single. Liza VanCamp slid safely into home, beating the Mercer Island catcher’s tag, for the score.
Mercer Island put their first run on the board in the top of the third inning, but the Patriot offense quickly responded, taking a 2-1 lead.
Liberty’s staff ace Sydney Hopper put together a gutsy performance in the top of the fifth, limiting Mercer Island to just one run on what could have been an explosive inning for the Islander offense.
With runners on second and third with no outs, Hopper proceeded to strike out the next three Mercer Island hitters to get out of the inning.
“Sydney just battled,” Bartholomew said. “She’s just a sophomore and she plays like a senior.”
Hopper’s gritty performance to get out of the fifth-inning jam seemed to inspire her team’s offense, as the Patriots collected two runs in the bottom of the inning, extending their lead, 4-2.
It all unraveled in the sixth, though, when Mercer Island scored three runs in a frustrating inning for the Liberty defense. After six innings, Mercer Island took its first lead, 5-4, and wouldn’t look back.
The Patriots had one more chance to tie it, though, after Hopper quickly retired the Islanders in the top of the seventh.
The bottom of the seventh began with promise, with senior Allie Wood reaching base on an error to begin the inning. She would eventually make it all the way to third, but the Patriots couldn’t bring her home, effectively ending their season with a 5-4 loss.
In what would be their last high school softball games, Liberty seniors Wood and Bukantz led the team’s offense. Bukantz went 2-3 with 2 RBIs and a double, while Wood reached base in all three of her plate appearances and scored two of Liberty’s four runs.
“The seniors this year were a great group of leaders, and that’s huge in a program, so I expect the same thing next year from our upcoming seniors,” Bartholomew said.
While Bartholomew must say goodbye to a talented group of seniors, the future is still bright for the Patriots, especially with Hopper returning to the mound next year, the Liberty coach said.
“Sydney’s going to be huge for us the next two years coming,” he said. “As a sophomore, she’s already a leader, a starter, a captain and everybody looks up to her.”
Liberty baseball loses to Islanders, too
The Liberty baseball team ended its season with a first-round loss in the KingCo tournament as well.
Mercer Island defeated Liberty, 8-3, ending what has been a difficult season for the Patriots, who went winless in conference play.
Senior Garret Hughes led the team in hitting during the game, going 2-3 with an RBI.