Patriots’ fastpitch makes quick exit from state tourney
June 3, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
The Liberty High School fastpitch team’s postseason magic came to an end May 30 after two consecutive losses in the 3A state tournament at Lacey’s Regional Athletic Complex.
Liberty was dealt the toughest possible opening-round game when it was matched up with Kamiakin, winners of the previous two state championships. The Braves went on to make it three in a row before the weekend ended.
The Patriots fell to Kamiakin, 12-6. Despite the loss, Liberty’s offense was the only Kamiakin tournament opponent to score more than three runs against the champions.
“We came out against the two-time defenders and didn’t give up the whole time,” second-year coach Zach Bartholomew said. “We weren’t that far back. That’s a tough first game no matter who you are.”
Liberty senior shortstop Liza VanCamp led Liberty hitters, going 3-4 with two runs and an RBI. Junior pitcher Sydney Hopper took the loss.
The Patriots’ next game was a rematch against Bainbridge, a team they narrowly lost to, 13-12, in the SeaKing District Tournament May 21. This time, Liberty was playing for its season in the double-elimination state tournament.
His girls struggled to adjust to a slower pitcher, Bartholomew said, ultimately losing the game, 5-0, and bringing an end to their season.
The Liberty offense mustered just three hits off of Bainbridge pitcher Alison Reichert. VanCamp started on the mound for the Patriots, before Hopper replaced her in the fourth.
“We couldn’t quite click on the speed of the pitcher, a little slower, throws your balance off a little bit, but again, they never gave up that whole time,” Bartholomew said.
It was the last game for a special group of seniors that included VanCamp, third baseman Olivia Kutzke, outfielder Jenny Walker, second baseman Ashley Knox and outfielder Breanna Olsen.
“This group of seniors, they are great leaders,” Bartholomew said. “They don’t yell and scream at people, they lead by example. They’ll do anything for you on the field and off the field, which to me, there’s nothing better than that.”
Liberty was back in the state tournament after missing out a year ago. This year’s team recaptured some of the old-school “Liberty toughness” that defined the school’s sports teams in the past, Bartholomew said.
The coach knows exactly what “Liberty tough” means. Bartholomew graduated from Liberty, where he won a 3A state baseball championship in 2003.
“This group of kids and these seniors are just amazing,” he said. “It’s the whole reason that I came back here, and I love it.”