Wendy Alexander/the Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Jaclyn Smith singles for the Hawks during Friday’s victory over Kerman.
The Liberty Hawks softball team got to a fast start against the Kerman LIons and came away with a 5-0 win at home.
Kerman made three pitching changes in the first two innings, but that didn’t stop the Hawks from putting up five runs early in Friday’s game.
Facing Kerman’s starting pitcher Alyssa Aguilar, freshman Lauren Chapman opened the scoring with an RBI double. Isabella Garcia then brought in two more runs for the Hawks in the second inning.
The Lions then turned to pitcher Ariana Sierras, who walked two batters to load the bases.
Kerman coach Tony Stefano once again made a quick change, bringing in pitcher Sydney Gong. The change didn’t bother sophomore Hannah Casner who hit a double to right field to drive in two runners for a 5-0 Hawks lead in the second inning.
Gong, however, pitched the rest of the game and didn’t allow any more runs.
“They changed before it got away and it worked,” Liberty head coach Steve Uyeda said. “It changed the pace, so it changed us a little bit and it stopped us from scoring, so it was a good move on their part.”
The Hawks tried to be aggressive in the fourth inning, but two runners were thrown out trying to steal second base.
Uyeda said it takes time to adjust when players are facing different pitchers.
“The girls have to be smart enough,” he said. “The speed is different. We could have been smarter at times, but it was a good ball game for us. We’ll take that.”
With the Hawks remaining scoreless, the defense had to step up. Liberty pitcher Sarah Shevenell anchored the defense, pitching a complete game allowing four hits and striking out 12.
“I believe they are capable of playing good defense all the time when they are alert and focused,” Uyeda said. “We have a good defense all the way around.”
The Hawks allowed runners on first and second base in the seventh inning, but they were able to escape without any damage.
“They got on base by a couple of little unusual things,” Uyeda said. “It was a little bit of a lack of focus by our pitcher, but she came back strong and got the job done.”
Garcia and Casner led the Hawks with two RBIs each. Chapman and Shevenell each recorded two hits.
“We got them in the beginning, but we could have got more in the beginning and we should have got more at the end,” Casner said.
With the win, the Hawks improved to 15-3 overall, 3-1 in league.
“We have really come together as a team and everybody is getting to know everybody,” Casner said.