The Liberty Hawks softball team walked away with a learning experience after a 5-3 loss at home against Washington Union-Easton.
Facing Washington Union’s highly-touted pitcher, Sydney Kuma, the Hawks found it difficult to make adjustments Friday afternoon.
“They need to learn how to adjust to different kinds of pitching,” Liberty head coach Steve Uyeda said. “Kuma is not an ordinary pitcher. She’s going to the University of Georgia, so she’s one of the cream of the crop in the Valley.”
Kuma struck out 10 batters in the Panthers’ win. The senior was also unstoppable with the bat.
Kuma’s home run in the fifth inning drove in three runs and helped the Panthers take the lead for good. She ended the game with all five RBIs for the Panthers.
While preaching to his team about making adjustments, Uyeda also took the blame for the loss.
“This is my loss,” he said. “I could have done some different things. I take credit for this loss.”
Uyeda added that a slow start made it difficult for his team.
“We got behind quick,” Uyeda said. “It’s hard against someone with that caliber to dig ourselves out.”
Facing Liberty’s Sarah Shevenell, the Panthers got off to a 2-0 lead in he first inning. The Hawks got a run back at their next at-bat when Lauren Chapman drove in Paige Chapman with a sacrifice fly.
Desiraee Sanchez’s hit in the second inning drove in Jaclyn Smith who beat the throw at the plate just in time to tie the game at 2-2.
Hannah Casner then hit a home run over the center wall to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead in the third inning.
That lead only lasted until Kuma’s home run in the fifth inning.
“We battled, but we just didn’t get it done today,” Uyeda said.
With a roster that includes several freshmen girls, Uyeda expects to see some growing pains.
“With all the freshmen, they still don’t understand that they’re playing older girls,” Uyeda said. “We have four, five freshmen that we start and Kuma is a senior going to a top 10 program. They don’t understand there is a difference, things they can work on and change a little bit. Hopefully with maturity that will come.”
With the loss, the Hawks dropped to 6-2 league, but still find themselves in a close battle with Chowchilla at the top of the standings. The Hawks will close out the regular season with a home game against Chowchilla on Thursday.
“We’re still in the thick of things,” Uyeda said. “We still control our own destiny.”