Freshmen lead Hawks in Div. III playoff win
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Lauren Chapman swings at a pitch during Tuesday’s victory over the Sunnyside Wildcats. She had two hits and drove in three runs while scoring two runs.
Liberty Hawks softball freshman Lauren Chapman looked like a seasoned veteran in her first-ever playoff game with three RBIs in the first round of the CIF Central Section Div. III playoff game, helping the Hawks beat Sunnyside, 9-0.
“I wasn’t so nervous today because we just have a really good team and I believe in us,” Chapman said. “When people are down, our team picks us back up and I believe we can go all the way with that kind of attitude.”
The freshman drove in Brianna Burgess and Paige Chapman in the first inning to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. She drove in Paige Chapman in the second inning for another RBI.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking coming out here with all these upperclassmen, but we all came together and it’s looking good,” Chapman said.
The fourth-seeded Hawks also had contributions from several other freshmen in the win against No. 13 Sunnyside. Isabella Garcia, another one of the freshmen who has contributed all season long, drove in Brianna Burgess in the fifth inning to score the Hawks final run of the game.
“The thing that makes us so confident is that we have a good team to be confident about,” Garcia said. “We all contribute together. We have a good pitcher and a good catcher and a good infield and a good outfield.”
While Garcia and Chapman did their part to help bring in runs, freshman pitcher Kaley Bowe came in as the closer and preserved the shutout.
Meanwhile, freshmen Alexandra Stoeckel and Desirae Sanchez anchored the defense from the infield.
“I have a lot of belief in my teammates,” Stoeckel said. “When we give it 100 percent and don’t get too cocky, we can do our job.”
“We played as a team and we’re gonna keep on playing like a team for more playoff games to come,” Sanchez added.
In the win against Sunnyside, the Hawks drove in five runs in the first inning. After Chapman drove in the first two runs, Camille Vestal drove in Hannah Casner. Junior Sarah Shevenell then drove in Lauren Chapman and Kaley Bowe to make it 5-0.
Chapman’s second RBI made it 6-0 in the second inning. The Wildcats loaded the bases in the fourth inning, but Liberty starting pitcher Shevenell struck out Makayla Snyder to get out of a jam.
With Snyder on the mound for the Wildcats in the fourth inning, the Hawks punched in another two runs to make it 7-0.
Brianna Burgess drove in Jaclyn Smith in the fifth inning while Isabella Garcia drove in Burgess to make it 9-0.
The Hawks freshmen credit the coaching staff for helping them grow throughout the season.
“The coaches are very uplifting,” Chapman said. ‘I like the constructive criticism they give me and it makes me a better person as well as a better player on the field.”
The Hawks faced No. 5 Mission Oak-Tulare in the quarterfinals Thursday.