By Lori Brown
LIBERTY The Liberty Lady Indians hosted the John S. Burke Catholic High School Lady Eagles on Friday afternoon in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV softball game.
Both teams entered the contest with a 0-4, so one team was guaranteed to record its first victory of the spring.
Unfortunately for the Lady Indians, it was Burke which posted its first ‘W’ of 2009.
In the top of the first, Lady Indians catcher Kristin Sarno prevented a Burke girl from stealing second base with a precise throw for the first out of the game.
Alicia Mulvey drew a walk from Liberty pitcher Jenna VanKeuren and proceeded to steal second base and third base. Megan Brockett grounded out, but earned an RBI as Mulvey scored on the play to give Burke (1-4, 1-1 Div. IV) a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first, Burke sophomore pitcher Dana Martin brought the heat and prevented any Liberty runners from getting on base.
After a scoreless second inning, the Burke bats came alive in the top of the third and the team pushed its lead to 4-0.
Cristie Hipsman smacked the ball up the left field line for a double and moved Kayla Katt to third base. With a full count, Mulvey slammed a double to bring home Katt and Hipsman.
With two outs in the frame, Meredith Perri hit a single which allowed Mulvey to cross home plate. Liberty (0-5, 0-2 Div. IV) made a good play at first base to end the inning.
During the top of the fourth, the Lady Indians made some good catches to prevent the Lady Eagles from adding to their four-run advantage.
Liberty’s Paulina Kleinberger started bottom of the fourth inning off with a slap single. She then stole second base and third base.
But Kleinberger could not score as Martin struck out the next three batters.
Relief pitcher Allie Maltese entered the game for Liberty in the top of the fifth and prevented the Lady Eagles from scoring in the frame.
Liberty’s Rebecca Scherer beat out a throw to first base to start off the bottom of the fifth inning. After stealing second base, she proceeded to third base after Paige LaPolt hit a bloop single to short right field. Pinch runner Megan Eisenberg entered the game for LaPolt and immediately stole second base.
The Lady Indians had two runners in scoring position, but Burke did not allow them to advance.
Maltese struck out two batters while holding Lady Eagles scoreless in the top of the sixth inning.
Burke’s Cristie Hipsman relieved Martin in the pitcher’s circle in the bottom of the sixth. Hipsman struck out the first two Lady Indians she faced. But the next batter, Ceara Williams, hit a line drive single to right center field. She advanced to second base on an error.
Brittany Panagakos then hit a line drive to center field, which allowed Williams to score Liberty’s first run of the contest.
Scherer slammed a double to deep right field to bring home Panagakos and cut the Burke lead to just two runs.
But Maltese ended the inning with a strikeout.
In the top of the seventh, left fielder Panagakos caught two fly balls and shortstop Scherer caught a pop fly to ensure that Burke would not score any more runs.
Liberty was unable to score in the bottom of the seventh and Burke left the field with a two-run win.
“We have a young team,” Burke Coach Dave Holmes said. “We only have two seniors this year, Caitlin Shannon, first baseman, and Megan Brockett, catcher.
“Both teams played very well defensively, not too many errors,” Holmes added. “The outfielders caught the fly balls and made good plays. My pitchers, Dana Martin and Cristie Hipsman, did a great job.”
Martin recorded 10 strikeouts and did not give up a run in her five innings of work.
“I have seen improvement in Liberty from the past five or six years,” Holmes said. “I have seen improvement from the team’s coaching staff as well.”
Liberty’s Coach Matt Stoddard said, “It took us a little while to get rolling. We have a good mix [of players] this year. We have been very competitive, but can’t get over the edge.
“Ceara Williams and Brittany Panagakos had big hits for us, as well as Rebecca Scherer,” Stoddard added.