LIBERTY -- Normally when a Class B school knocks off a Class D school, there isn't much to talk about. Bigger schools have more students, which means, at least in theory, …
LIBERTY -- Normally when a Class B school knocks off a Class D school, there isn't much to talk about. Bigger schools have more students, which means, at least in theory, that they have a larger talent pool to draw from. However, for a 2-10 Liberty Lady Indians varsity softball team who on Tuesday defeated Eldred, the No. 1 ranked Class D softball team in the state, it's as Coach Dave Philips said, “Huge.”
Liberty's bats came alive as they won the non-league contest, 3-1, handing Eldred their only loss of the season.
“We struggled at the beginning of the year,” said Philips. “We were 0-6 before we could blink. Tip of the hat to Eldred. They are a great team and Dana [Donnelly] is a great pitcher. Rebecca [Philips] threw strikes and our fielders made plays.”
Entering the season, Liberty only had one player, Brooke Nichols, with any varsity experience. But Phillips has seen improvement. “They've grown all season,” he said. “They give 110 percent effort, they're dedicated and they work hard.”
The Lady Indians came out the gate firing as a Yanira Wilson double in the first inning brought home Grace Wormuth and Nichols. Wormuth added an RBI single in the second inning, which scored Quinn Allen and increased their lead to 3-0.
No more runs were scored until the top of the sixth inning when Eldred was threatening. With the bases loaded, a Lily Gonzalez sac fly scored Mackenzie Simonsen. However, Liberty got themselves out of trouble, as the inning and eventually the game, ended with the score 3-1.
Six Lady Indians were honored prior to the game as part of Senior Night festivities. They were Nichols, Aidan Whitehead, Jessica Dworetsky, McKayla Bivins, Yanire and Yanira Wilson.
While the team will be sad to see them go, there are some key players returning next season, including pitcher Rebecca Philips who earned the win in a complete game. Philips allowed a total of six hits on the day and struck out three batters.
On the other side of the field was an Eldred team that had a season for the ages. Tuesday's contest was their final game of the year with the unfortunate reality of there being no state tournament this spring. They are losing three pieces of the stellar group that went 10-1, with Lenae Kelty, Mackenzie Simonsen and Aleczia Gingold graduating.
Eldred will surely be a force to be reckoned with next season with eight starters returning. This includes the dynamic duo of pitcher Dana Donnelly and catcher Lily Gonzalez.
Donnelly only allowed four hits and struck out nine in Tuesday's contest. She also went 3-3 on the offensive end.
Unfortunately for Eldred they couldn't put enough offense together for a comeback.
Eldred Coach Rick Whitney had high praise for his team, who he says are like his own kids.
“They buy into what you teach, and play and practice hard,” he said. “They're just a fabulous group and it was a fantastic season. But it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, losing the last one.”
The Lady Yellowjackets, being the only team to qualify for the postseason in their class, are automatically the 2021 Section 9 Class D champions. It is their sixth consecutive Section 9 title.
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