Sullivan County Democrat
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Batter Up!

Democrat File Photo by Rob Potter

LIBERTY’S JACKIE KATZENBERGER checks her swing and lets a low pitch go by in a game versus Tri-Valley last month. Waiting for the ball is T-V catcher Kelli Short.

And Closer
Than Ever

By Ted Waddell
Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of stories about how the county’s scholastic softball teams fared during the 2005 season.

LIBERTY — June 28, 2005 – The Liberty Lady Indians didn’t quite make the Section IX softball tournament this year.
The team had an overall record of 10-12 and was 2-7 in Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV competition.
Going up against John S. Burke Catholic High School in regular season play, the Lady Indians dropped three games to the eventual Section IX Class B champions.
But as the 2005 season drew to a close, Liberty rallied to win its final four games.
“We started playing better at the end of the year,” Coach John Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm said he was a bit disappointed the team didn’t fare as well as he had hoped in Division IV play, losing to Sullivan West and O’Neill.
“We fell short of making sectionals,” he said.
The coach said the best comeback game of the year wasn’t “necessarily the best played.” Going into the sixth inning at home, Liberty trailed O’Neill 23-10 but rallied to win 24-23.
The worst game of the season?
Wilhelm said it was a contest against SW when the Lady Indians gave up 14 runs in the first frame and wound up losing 20-13.
“That was tough,” Wilhelm recalled.
The most memorable play of 2005?
The veteran coach noted that it was second baseman Jessica Franke’s triple play in a game against the Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats. With nobody out and runners at first and third, a Manor batter hit the ball over the first baseman’s glove. Franke rushed over to catch the ball, stepped on first base and then fired to third for the third out as the runner there was thinking about heading for home.
“It showed how alert she was,” Wilhelm commented. “Jessica was in the game.”
The coach said that sophomore shortstop Brittany Melchick posted “some impressive numbers” this season. She had a .573 batting average, 43 hits, 29 runs and 33 RBIs. And she only struck out twice in 75 times at bat.
“She carried the team offensively, and consistently hit the ball all year long,” Wilhelm said.
Looking ahead to the 2006 softball season, Wilhelm said he’s losing seven seniors, five of whom were starters. Those graduating seniors are Marla Egan, Miriam Fitzpatrick, Keely Hamlin, Jackie Katzenberger, Amber Miller, Brittany Strysko and Saritza Vazquez.
“I’ve got some decent players coming back, but I’ve got some spots to fill,” Wilhelm said.

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