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Hawks head to Div. IV championship game

For The first time since 2015, the Liberty Hawks softball team will play for a Central Section Championship.

After a 1-0 victory over No. 2 seeded Templeton, the third-seeded Hawks played top-seed Tulare on Thursday for the Div. III championship. The Hawks last won a Central Section Championship in 2012.

The Hawks battled in a tight game Tuesday against Templeton and overcame four hits and eight walks by freshman pitcher Karsyn Bauer, who picked up the win.

“We survived eight walks by our pitcher,” head coach Steve Uyeda said. “Six of the seven innings, Templeton got their lead-off runner on. We survived all that. We survived bases loaded with nobody out.”

Sayler Steiner scored the game’s lone run after reaching on a single. She later scored on a double from Desirae Sanchez.

Uyeda points to the play of the team’s lone senior, Jaclyn Smith, as a reason for a resurgence.

“Since she has finished with soccer, she is starting to come around,” Uyeda said. “She’s made a big impact. She fluctuated with soccer, volleyball and softball. She never got into a groove. It’s a big help from her.”

Uyeda said that Smith made the defensive play of the game by fielding a tough short-hop and cutting down a runner at the plate with the bases loaded.

“That would have killed us she had not made that play,” he said. “

The steady pitching of Bauer, along with a tough Liberty defense is the recipe for success. Although she walked eight batters, Bauer struck out nine.

“We’ve had walk issues all year,” Uyeda said. “She has tremendous ability. For some reason, the walks come and go. Defensively, we’re as good as anybody. We have a really strong defense and our offense has been pretty good. They take care of her.”

Going against the top seed will be tough, Uyeda said, especially because Tulare has one of the best pitchers in the section.

“Tulare has a senior pitcher that has struck out a whole bunch of kids,” Uyeda said. “That’s going to be the difference — whether our kids adjust and make contest.

“The kids believe they belong and believe they can do this. I believe they can too.”



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