Liberty’s return to state tourney is short-lived

June 5, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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By Greg Farrar Madison O'Connor (left), Liberty High School sophomore catcher, gets Bainbridge baserunner Riley Gregoire out at home plate in the fourth inning on a bases-loaded single, during their 3A state tournament game May 30 in Lacey.

By Greg Farrar
Madison O’Connor (left), Liberty High School sophomore catcher, gets Bainbridge baserunner Riley Gregoire out at home plate in the fourth inning on a bases-loaded single, during their 3A state tournament game May 30 in Lacey.

The Liberty High School fastpitch team’s postseason magic came to an end May 30 after two straight losses in the 3A state tournament at Lacey’s Regional Athletic Complex.

Liberty was dealt the toughest possible opening-round game when they were 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 finished.

The Patriots fell to Kamiakin, 12-6. Despite the loss, Liberty’s offense was the Braves’ only tournament opponent to score more than three runs against the champions. Liberty senior Liza VanCamp led Liberty hitters, going 3-4 with two runs and an RBI.

“We came out against the two-time defenders and didn’t give up the whole time,” second-year Liberty coach Zach Bartholomew said. “We weren’t that far back. That’s a tough first game no matter who you are.”

Liberty was back in the state tournament after missing out a year ago. The Patriots emerged from the KingCo tournament, something they couldn’t do last year, and proceeded to clinch the fifth and final state berth in the SeaKing District Tournament May 21-22.

“I’m just trying to get back to where the program should and used to be,” Bartholomew said. “It’s always kind of been the same story. They’re not always the most talented group, but nobody ever wants to play us because we’ll jump up and beat anybody at anytime.”

Liberty’s season came to an end though, May 30, after it lost to Bainbridge, 5-0, in the double-elimination state tournament. A little more than a week earlier, the Patriots narrowly lost to Bainbridge, 13-12, in the SeaKing District Tournament.

His girls struggled to adjust to a slower pitcher, Bartholomew said. The Liberty offense mustered just three hits off of Bainbridge pitcher Alison Reichert.

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.”

This year’s team embodied some of the old-school toughness that defined past Liberty squads, Bartholomew said. It’s why, as soon as they earned the state berth, the team sent out orders for T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Liberty Tough.”

“That’s what our coaches have been telling us. We’re swift and scrappy like we were back when Liberty baseball won the championship and Liberty softball was at the top,” Kutzke 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.”


Hazen’s season ends at sub-districts

The Hazen High School softball team finished the regular season with a 14-6 record, just behind league champion Kennedy Catholic, according to the Seamount Athletics website.

The Highlanders’ performance earned them a spot in the sub-district playoffs, where teams from the South Puget Sound League face off against Seamount teams.

Their season ended May 15, after a 14-4 loss to Bonney Lake.

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