Liberty softball coach Chris Szocik had a chance to borrow from an old baseball adage — it's never until it's over — when his Lions visited Francis Scott Key on Monday.
They faced an 8-3 deficit entering the seventh inning, and down to their final strike after cutting into FSK's lead, but that certainly didn't stop them.
Jennifer Sothoran came up at bat looking for a chance to help her team get some runs. She worked the count to 3-2 before connecting with a two-run single that tied the score. The Lions continued from there and completed a 10-run barrage to defeat the Eagles 13-8.
"First I was extremely nervous and I think when I got up there I tried to clear my head as much as possible," Sothoran said. "There were two outs in the game and after I hit it, it felt great and it was very exciting to see how hyped up the team got."
Two scoreless innings went by before Liberty's Kaya Holmes hit an RBI double to get the Lions on the board at 2-0. The Lions had two outs before Holmes stepped up to bat and the bases were loaded.
After Eagles pitcher Morgan May struck out Melodie Miles, a pinch hitter for Brooke Heffler, the Lions exited the field and Szocik praised Holmes for her "clutch hit."
The Eagles had a powerful next two innings with four runs apiece. Their first four were scored back-to-back with no outs, and Jessica Blanchard and Kaesey Greene notched doubles. Sothoran hit a single in the fourth that brought Megan O'Keefe in to score for the Lions.
Key again found its rhythm with four scored runs out of the gate at the bottom of the fourth and it seemed as if the Eagles were going to pull out a decisive victory, but the Lions crafted their hits and walks at the right moments.
Singles from Amy Jacobs and Logan Heydon, the winning pitcher, helped Liberty take the lead in the seventh.
"It's all on them, they just did the right things," Szocik said. "I told them to be patient and that we needed baserunners and to not be anxious. They were swinging balls in the dirt earlier in the game and were a little anxious out in front of the ball. The pitching was a little slow from what they're used to so they had trouble being patient with it but finally came around just took them seven innings."
Heydon struck out 11 batters — including two in the seventh — and May struck out six for Key.
Despite the team being small in numbers this year, Vickery indicated that good things are coming for this year's Eagles squad.
"We're lucky here," Vickery said. "We really are. This is just a blue-collar work ethic and these kids know nothing but work and they played a heck of a game. I'm proud of them and the great thing about this game is that tomorrow is another day, we'll start all over and that's all we can do."