Nicole Barrett and Sarah Sexton, each donned in a sash and crown in honor of Westminster's senior night, got to celebrate more than just their contributions to the Owls' softball program on Monday.

The Owls trailed Liberty by one run entering the third inning but used an offensive surge in the third and fourth innings to the Lions 8-1.

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Barrett and Sexton, two of Westminster's four seniors, didn't hesitate to admit that this season has been a rocky one for the reigning Class 3A state champion Owls (3-10, 3-8 county). Monday's win over Liberty proved to be a step in the right direction with regional playoffs around the corner.

"I think this win was good for us especially because the season has been rough," Sexton said. "We don't have a lot of wins this season and to get one on senior night kind of shows how far we've come especially with the two of us, all four years, and especially against Liberty because we've always had a rivalry with them."

"They're just a really strong team," Barrett added, "It felt great to beat them."

Liberty's Taylor Fowlkes got the momentum swinging in the second inning when she hit a home run that sailed into left field and just over the fence. Westminster came out firing in the third when Barrett hit an RBI double that brought junior outfielder Bailey Whalen in for the Owls' first run.

Turns out they were just getting started.

Sexton singled to first and Barrett came in to give the Owls a 2-1 lead with only one out. Senior baseman Meghan Lockwood's RBI single put the Owls up 3-1 when junior outfielder Kayla Sherfey ran in as a courtesy runner for Sexton. Freshman Alyssa Dixon's score gave the Owls a 4-1 lead, still with one out.

The Owls had two outs in the fourth when Sexton hit another RBI single that brought in junior catcher Olivia Herman from first base. Westminster led 6-1 when the Lions stepped up to the plate to start the fifth inning.

"That's kind of the point in the game where we used to fall apart," Sexton said. "Early in the season we would have a solid first and second inning and the third inning is when the other team would score like 10 runs so it kind of turned and that was us this game."

Westminster scored two more runs, one in the fifth and one in the sixth. Liberty had two outs with the bases loaded at the top of the sixth, but Brooke Heffler struck out looking to send the Lions back on defense.

Stringing together little hits was something Westminster failed to do in previous games, Sexton said. The last time the county rivals met, the Lions won 8-2 on April 10 in Eldersburg, but the Owls turned things around three weeks later.

"The whole lineup contributed today and it was really nice," Johnson said. "Defensively we made a couple errors but honestly, we never hit that 'fall apart' moment. We held together, picked each other up and I think that's good. They're definitely jelling as a team."

Westminster defeated Francis Scott Key 14-3 on April 28 and the Owls have two more county games remaining in the regular season against Winters Mill and Century. Liberty faces Manchester Valley at home Tuesday, and the Mavericks need to beat Liberty in order to stay in the county championship race.

"I'll be telling them a lot tomorrow," Lions coach Chris Szocik said. "I'm not sure what we are doing but it seems like a lot of girls are in a bit of a slump, making poor decisions at the plate, but that's something we need to tighten up if we are going to go anywhere in the playoffs. Sometimes you just have to let that work out, but there's no reason why we should have scored only one run today, that was the key failure for the team.

"We gave up some runs, they were clean for the most part, didn't give up too many errors but we've got to hit to win."

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Liberty 010 000 0 — 1 4 2

Westminster 004 301 0 — 8 11 2

L-Logan Heydon, Jennifer Sothoron (3), Taylor Fowlkes (6) and Jordan Nastos; W-Jill Haines and Sarah Sexton. 2B: W-Bailey Whalen, Nicole Barrett, Carly Brooks. 3B: W-Whalen. HR: L-Taylor Fowlkes.

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