A young Liberty team showed a lot of different looks yesterday afternoon at North Carroll.
The Lions came out opportunistic, building a 3-0 lead after two innings. They showed their potential and inexperience in a third inning that saw the No. 7 Panthers tie the score.
There was plenty of poise defensively in the fifth and in the end for the Lions, who started five sophomores, three juniors and one senior.
Trailing by one and down to their last out, the Lions took advantage of two errors to pull out a 5-4 upset against a veteran North Carroll team.
The Panthers (8-2) appeared to be on their way to another win after pitcher Kandi Lippy quickly got the first two batters out in the seventh. But that's when things began to unravel.
Liberty leadoff hitter Brigit Becker hit a grounder to shortstop Christina Crouse, whose throw to first was off the mark. Stacy Smith followed with a double to left to score Becker with Smith taking third on the throw home. She scored the game-winner when Liz Armstrong hit a grounder back to Lippy, who bobbled before throwing late to first.
The Panthers had runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh before Liberty pitcher Charlene Rice (11 strikeouts) got Kathleen Tunney to ground out to third.
"This is a big win," said Liberty first-year coach Nora Murray, whose team improved to 5-6. "They know they have to play every inning and keep their heads up and not let things affect them."
The Lions had a rough third inning in the field. A great defensive play came first. With Jocelyn Bredenburg on first and one out, Becky Bosley hit a shot to the gap in right-center. Right fielder Pam Owens got the ball and relayed to Becker, who fired a strike to the plate to cut down Bosley.
Three errors and a couple of singles followed to score two more and get the Panthers even. A couple more Liberty errors in the fourth gave North Carroll a 4-3 lead.
The turning point came in the bottom of the fifth when the Panthers had a chance to blow the game open with the bases loaded and none out. The Lions played the infield in and cut down two runners at the plate and got Tunney to ground out to third to end the threat.