Liberty falls short in championship game
Tomas Kassahun/The Madera Tribune
The Liberty softball team’s lone senior Jaclyn Smith holds the Div. III Central Section runner-up plaque while she and the rest of the team watches Tulare celebrate the section championship last Thursday after a 4-0 victory over the Hawks.
Liberty’s magical softball season ended with a 4-0 loss against Tulare Union in the Div. III Central Section championship game.
The young Hawks, who had overcome the odds all season long, faced a much more experienced opponent in the finale, led by pitcher Mia Reynolds.
The senior pitched a complete game and allowed three hits while recording five strikeouts.
“That’s the best pitcher we faced all year,” Liberty coach Steve Uyeda said.
On the other side, freshman pitcher Karsyn Bauer faced a tall task for her team.
“We have a freshman thrower and she did pretty good, considering,” Uyeda said. “That’s a lot of pressure to get to this point. She kept this team together and with her pitches, pretty much the whole year.”
Tulare Union opened the scoring when Taylor Hastin drove in a run in the fourth inning. Liberty put a runner on a base in the following inning, but Reynolds struck out two batters to keep the visitors scoreless.
Hastin earned another RBI in the bottom of the fifth inning to drive in Maris Pinheiro. With a rocket to center field, Shalom Sanchez drove in another run for Tulare Union to make it 3-0. The Tribe then capitalized on an error to score the final run of the game in the fifth.
“We’re a pretty good darn hitting team, but [Reynolds] kept us down pretty good,” Uyeda said. “No one else kept us down like that. Even in the lower scoring games, we still made better contact than we did against her.”
Still, the coach is proud of what his team accomplished this season.
“Anytime you can make it to the playoffs, it’s a good accomplishment,” he said. “They played well most of the year. We probably didn’t play our best today, but I don’t know if that would have mattered.”
Uyeda said he expects to have 17 returners next year with just one senior — Jaclyn Smith — graduating.
“This team is young,” he said. “They can get here again.”