Liberty freshman catcher Jordan Nastos may be small, but she's vocal and has no fear in calling her own game from behind the plate when necessary.
Teammate and senior pitcher Lexi Trail said she's thankful for that, and Nastos' direction is a positive asset to the team's game.
"She knows what to call, she's called some of her own games this season when my dad wasn't here," Trail said. "She catches on throughout the year of when to throw and when not to throw so that really helps. She's good at setting up where it needs to be and her glove really helps. She frames the ball really well gets some of those tight calls so it really helps out a lot."
The Lions used a collective team effort in defeating county rival and host Winters Mill 8-3 in a Class 2A West Section 2 quarterfinal Friday.
Trail collected 10 strikeouts and added an RBI double in the fourth inning. Brooke Fowlkes had two RBIs and three hits, including a triple in the sixth.
Liberty (12-8) and Winters Mill got hits going early as each team scored runs in the first and second innings. Falcons junior infielder Taylor Glover hit an RBI double with one out and sophomore infielder Ansley Annable came in for a run. Glover also scored a run to give the Falcons a 3-2 advantage entering the third.
Trail smacked an RBI double to left field in the fourth to give the Lions a spark. Fowlkes' RBI single brought Trail in from third and the Lions led by one. Liberty scored twice in the fifth and added a run in the sixth and seventh to close out the victory.
"We had a couple mistakes in the first inning," Trail said. "When we have unearned runs we get a little yelled at but we said this can't keep happening. We made mistakes last time and that's what cost us errors that shouldn't have been made and today we said look it's do or die. This is win or lose and we can't make those mistakes."
"When we were down, we stopped making fielding errors a lot and got the outs we needed to," Nastos added. "We started hitting the ball, playing smarter."
Ashlyn Weisgerber and Brooke Heffler each added an RBI for Liberty.
"We didn't play this team well during the season," Lions coach Chris Szocik said. "We barely beat them 5-4 and lose to them 3-2 and for whatever reason, their pitching is relatively slow to what we see and we just haven't been able to wait on it and drive a ball. Today, we did a little bit."
Nastos has fulfilled the starting catcher role with ease for the Lions this season and reading Trail's pitches has helped her adjust and find confidence in that position. It's only her first year as a varsity player, but Nastos has built in to the team's unit rather smoothly.
"It's pretty good," Nastos said with a smile. "It's easy to mesh with them."
Winters Mill (11-8) accumulated just seven wins in the last three seasons and this year proved to be a bright spot. Head coach Felicia Knill's team started out 5-0 and strung together some big victories as the season progressed that included a 12-5 victory over Manchester Valley and a 21-7 rout of Westminster three days later. The Falcons contended for the county championship late in the season.
"We experienced so much as a program and as a team, just things that we haven't done in the past, things that these girls have never been through," Knill said. "It's hard to experience all of that together when you don't have kind of that person or people who have seen it before and been there so we're all seeing it for the first time, so it's a great experience for everyone."
Liberty 110 221 1 — 8 14 2
Winters Mill 120 000 0 — 3 9 0
L-Lexi Trail and Jordan Nastos; WM-Lillie Carr, Zoey Deniker (5) and Megan Alisauckas. 2B: L-Trail, Amy Jacobs; WM-Taylor Glover. 3B: L-Brooke Fowlkes, Abby Devine. WP: Trail.