Patriots’ coach to rely on youth
March 11, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
It’s always easier to do something the second time around, just ask Liberty High School softball coach Zach Bartholomew.
Bartholomew is heading into his second year leading the Patriots, and with a year under his belt, both he and the girls have a better idea of who they are and what they need to do as a team to bring the Liberty program back to previous levels of success.
“It’s always great coming into something that you’re a little bit used to,” he said. “I’m not brand new to the program, the players are not brand new to me, so it helps me out a lot.”
Liberty endured an inconsistent season last year, which culminated with an early exit from the conference tournament.
“As far as last year goes, we preached it all year, we got to have mental toughness, and we just got beat, it happens,” Bartholomew said. “I expect a lot out of them this year, though.”
The Patriots lost all-league performers Miranda Bukantz and Joshilynn Wolff to graduation, but they remain strong in the pitching circle with the return of ace junior Sydney Hopper.
Shortstop Liza Van Camp will return to lead the infielders and hit leadoff. The senior, who earned honorable mention all-league last year, is also the team’s backup pitcher.
“Hopper is going to be huge for us and Van Camp will be a key senior,” Bartholomew said of his returning players.
Other than that, the Patriots will rely on a slew of underclassmen to step up this year, Bartholomew said.
“Our younger generation is definitely going to be a big part of this year,” he said. “For example, we have two sophomores in the outfield.”
Liberty had just enough girls to form both varsity and junior varsity teams, but the numbers will be tight, Bartholomew said.
“The numbers are right there,” he said. “We’re down to 21 which is better than last year, so right now we have two teams as long as everybody keeps school in order and stays healthy.”