A lot has happened since 1996. One thing that hasn’t is the Liberty softball team missing the state playoffs.
The Patriots made the state tournament this season for the 12th-straight time, Washington’s longest streak of state tournament appearances.
“It can be either a burden or an expectation,” said Liberty coach Brian Hartman of the streak. “The team decided to make it an expectation. This year is probably as special as any because of the adversity and injuries they had to work through.”
Throughout the year Liberty seniors chanted “not on our watch” to remind the team of what was at stake.
“We’re this little school out in Renton,” Hartman said. “We’re one of the smaller 3A schools and we always seem to make it. It means a lot, it’s a big deal.”
Liberty hasn’t been a powerhouse every season in the run, but the team knows how to get the wins that really matter. The Patriots went just 1-2 in the KingCo 3A Tournament, but moved on because they won their first game against Mount Si. The team then went 3-2 in the Sea-King District Tournament to move on to state. The records may not look dominant, but the team did its job and gave itself a chance to win the state title.
“Sometimes we’ve got a bull’s eye on our backs,” said Liberty senior Michelle Torre. “Sometimes we’re the underdogs, but we always seem to get there.”
Liberty opened the tournament run with a 15-5 win over Enumclaw on May 23 at the SERA Fields in Tacoma.
The Patriots attacked first-round foe Enumclaw the same way they’ve attacked most opponents this year: with smart, aggressive base running. Even though the scouting report on the Hornet’s said they have a similar style, Hartman said he stuck with what Liberty does best.
“We’re not going to back down,” he said. “This is our game.”
The Patriots were constantly taking the extra base, stealing and generally creating havoc on the base paths.
In the first inning, Kate Faoro started things off with a single, Hannah Sherwood followed with a walk, then Montessa Califano hit a single of her own to load the bases. Torre hit a two-run single. Lindsey Bruder hit another two-run single two batters later, to put Liberty up 4-0.
Enumclaw brought the score as close as 6-4 in the bottom of the third, but couldn’t slow the Patriots down. Liberty never trailed in the game and scored in every inning except the third and fifth on the way to the 15-5 final score.
Torre led the offensive charge with five RBIs and 3-5 batting. Jesi Siemons pitched the complete game, struck out three batters and earned the win. Montessa Califano, Aris Califano, Faoro and Bruder all collected at least two hits.
Liberty’s run differential (plus 10 runs) was the biggest of the first round. Kennedy’s win over Issaquah by three runs was the second biggest. The Patriots were the only team in the first round to score over five runs.
Liberty played next Friday evening against Everett, who beat Southridge 2-0 in the first round. Depending on whether Liberty won or lost, it played again Friday evening or Saturday. Because of early Renton Reporter holiday deadlines, results were not available.
Adam McFadden can be reached at email@example.com or 425-255-3484, ext. 5054.