While playing host in yesterday's Class 3A West region final, Liberty was a bit too gracious to its visitors from Damascus.
The Lions made six errors leading to six unearned runs that wiped out an early lead, and Damascus rode a two-hit, 10-strikeout performance from Morgan Randles to a 10-2 victory and a berth in the state semifinals Tuesday.
Liberty (10-8), which reached the region final by surprising North Carroll 3-0 Friday, made errors that helped Damascus (17-1) score eight of its 10 runs. The Hornets forced Liberty's hand a bit at times with their aggressive style of softball -- taking the extra base, stealing bases, bunting -- but the mistakes hurt.
"The errors got us," said Liberty coach Nora Murray. "We did not make the fundamental plays. They're a solid team, and I knew we had to play exactly the same type of game we played yesterday, and we didn't."
Liberty pitcher Amber Back tossed a four-hitter vs. North Carroll Friday, and the Lions didn't make any errors against the Panthers. But it was a different story yesterday. Back didn't pitch badly, but the errors hurt her.
"We didn't help ourselves," said Liberty center fielder Theresa Jason.
The Lions took a 2-0 lead in the second when Stephanie Wilder lined a two-run double to right-center. But the Hornets answered with three runs on four hits in the third to take the lead for good.
Damascus then added four runs in the fifth for a 7-2 lead. Liberty helped in both innings, making two errors in each frame as Damascus took control of the game.
Kelly Burns and Melanie Okun each had RBI doubles in the third and Laura Winter lined an RBI single. Wilson added a two-run double in the fifth and doubled and scored in the seventh.
Wilson, the Damascus clean-up hitter, finished 3-for-4 with three doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored. Burns, Winter, Okun and Wilson, the first four batters in the Damascus lineup, combined to go 8-for-16 with six extra-base hits.
"It takes a while for the hitting to start," said Damascus coach Barb King. "Once they get the bats rattling, we get going."
Randles, meanwhile, kept Liberty's bats quiet for most of the game. The hard-throwing right-hander stayed ahead in the count throughout.
After the second inning, she retired 12 of the next 13 batters before Tara Shoemaker reached on a wild pitch after striking out in the seventh. The Lions never got the ball out of the infield after the second inning.
Pub Date: 5/17/98