The playoffs couldn’t have started better for Liberty. On a beautiful spring evening, high-intensity and hard work both offensively and defensively propelled the Lions to a 21-0 five-inning win over Loch Raven in a Class 1A North Region I quarterfinal.
The Lions roared right away, retiring Loch Raven in order in the top of the first. When the Lions came to the plate, Kaelin Ault led off with an inside-the-park home run. It was just the beginning. By the end of the first inning, the Lions posted 12 runs.
Liberty’s Madison Cadieux stood out offensively. She came to plate in the first inning with the bases loaded, doubling in two runs. She came up again in the first inning, again with the bases loaded, and again doubled bringing in two more runs.
In the second inning, Cadieux yet again came up with the bases loaded. This time her double brought in three runs. All totaled she went 3-for-4 with seven RBIs. Sophia Steele had three RBIs, Natalie Crane and Erin Martin each had two RBIs
Coach Chris Szocik noted that the team had been working on adjusting the Loch Raven’s pitches during practices to prepare for the change.
“We’ve been trying to work with them to handle tough pitching — we’ve faced a few of those this year and struggled hitting that,” Szocik said. “We knew we’d have to adjust to the pitching tonight, slow it down a little bit, and, you know, wait on the ball, so we were working on that— waiting and, you know, not getting out front, and playing clean defense.”
Carroll County Daily Headlines
While Liberty was piling up hits and runs, all the offense it needed came after one swing.
Pitcher Sarah Hart excelled throughout the game, launching fastballs through the first three innings to gauge seven of the team’s nine strikeouts. The top of each inning was quick, thanks to efficient moves from the Lions’ defense.
“Our pitcher, Sarah, you know, she did a heck of a job,” Szcosik said. “She’s been getting better every game… in particular she did a nice job, but the whole team did well.”
By varying their hits to different portions of the field, the Lions kept their lead exponentially growing. Their quick pace stacked the pressure against Loch Raven that the Raiders were unable to recover from.
Lila McCain stepped into the circle to close out the game. Despite Loch Raven’s sharp hit to start off the inning, Cadieux darted from her spot deep into left field and caught the ball for the first out. McCain then coaxed out the final two outs in rapid succession to end the game.
Szocik, as well as the rest of the Lions, are confident that their performance today will transfer into the rest of the playoffs. They face second-seeded Francis Scott Key on Monday in the regional semifinals.
“We’re gunnin’ for FSK on Monday,” he said. “So we’ll adjust, and hopefully we hit like we did today, play good defense, and we’ll be okay.”