What is Liberty softball coach Chris Szocik's biggest fear this season?
One-run games. The Lions have lost four of them.
But Liberty's 3-2 victory over host South Carroll Tuesday meant more than words could express to Szocik — he was certainly smiling.
The Lions (7-5, 4-3 county) rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh inning to prevail as Taylor Fowlkes had a two-run double.
"We have rallied toward the end and lost a couple of close games," said Szocik, whose team also lost to Bel Air by two runs. "So it was really nice to rally and hold the lead."
Liberty got a strong outing from pitcher Lexi Trail (4-3, 2.38 ERA). The senior went the distance — she gave up two unearned runs, scattered nine hits, fanned 10 batters and walked none.
"She did a good job of working the ball up and down," South Carroll coach Matt Cannistraci said. "We have seen her for three years and it was her typical performance."
Liberty pushed across a run in the first off of junior pitcher Chloe Sharman, who took the loss and yielded three earned runs on six hits and struck out nine.
Leadoff batter Jordan Nastos, a freshman, reached on an infield single. After Sharman struck out Trail and Ashlyn Weisgerber, Fowlkes' sister Brooke clubbed a double to the right-center field gap that brought Nastos in to score.
South Carroll threatened to score in the fifth when leadoff batter Katlyn Davis doubled to right center field. The next batter, Madison Hoffman, popped up a sacrifice bunt, which was caught by the diving Nastos. The catcher quickly got up and threw to second base to complete the double play.
"We were very flat at the beginning of the game," Cannistraci said. "It took them two or three innings just to realize we were in a softball game. I think it was the holiday. We were off (for two days). We told them, 'Just be more aggressive.' We were able to hit the ball hard in the sixth inning."
That's when the Cavaliers (8-4, 5-2) scored two runs. Sydney Ruckel got on by an infield hit and advanced to second on an error and Marlee Carroll, the third batter of the inning, also reached on an error which allowed Ruckel to go to third.
Sam Amateau (2-for-3) plated Ruckel with a single to right field and Carroll (2-for-3, RBI) later scored on pinch hitter Victoria Holston's ground out to give the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead.
Then came Liberty's big inning.
Brooke Heffler reached on a one-out infield hit and Sharman issued a walk to Jennifer Sothoron to put runners on first and second. Fowlkes drove Heffler and Sothoron in with a double to left field.
"This was a big win for us," Trail said. "South Carroll has always been a great competitor for us. We had so much energy coming into the game and that really helped us throughout the game."
Liberty 100 0002— 3 6 2
South Carroll 00 00020 — 2 9 0
L-Lexi Trail and Jordan Nastos; SC-Chloe Sharman and Devin Scales. 2B- L-Brooke Fowlkes, Taylor Fowlkes; SC-Katlyn Davis. WP: Trail. LP: Sharman.