For West Valley Preps
Despite losing by double digits on a windy afternoon, Liberty coach Kara Holtorf could not complain about her pitching and defense.
It was the team’s lack of offense that was a problem Thursday.
Three runs in the third and sixth innings and a four run fifth inning helped the Shadow Ridge Stallions (15-5) to a 10-0 six-inning romp over the Liberty Lions (10-7).
Shadow Ridge coach Vicki Bejarano said her team has made it a goal to stay focused.
“We are mentally challenging ourselves and at times we struggled, but these girls have good attitudes and have come together, “Bejarano said. “Many of them know their roles. We have a saying of getting on the same page (this year).”
Coach Holtorf looked at the situation and said her starting pitching did her best.
“Our pitching was the best for (senior) Kylee Harris,” Holtorf said. “The wind was an issue, and our defense was solid, but you can’t win without offense. They (Shadow Ridge) put the ball in play when they needed, but I was proud of our defense.
“In all games ther will be certain situations where it doesn’t go our way and tomorrow will be different. (Liberty plays Shadow Ridge 3:45 p.m. March 31 at Shadow). If they (Liberty) stay consistent we’ll be all right, and we just have to keep ourselves in the game.”
After Harris and Shadow Ridge senior pitcher Devynn Marshall tossed two scoreless innings, the Stallions would get all the offense they needed in the third inning on an RBI single, a wild pitch and run-scoring single from freshman Sophia Carroll.
Liberty would threaten in their half of the third on a two-out single walk and wild pitch. However, Marshall settled down and got a strikeout to end the inning.
Shadow Ridge added to their lead in the fifth on an RBI-single from senior center fielder Hayley Bejarano, a ground out, infield single and a walk, making it 7-0.
Liberty’s best offensive threat came in the fifth as they loaded the bases with one out, but Marshall got a line drive to short and a ground out.
Shadow ended the game with three in the sixth on an infield single from Carroll and two-run homer to left from freshman third baseman Aris Carroll.
The Stallions entered the game ranked No. 4 in 5A and appear to be the most talented and focused team in the program’s young history.
Last year’s finish was a diferent story that led to this season’s attitude adjustment, Coach Bejarano said.
“We broke down mentally in our last game last year against Casa Grande in the second round of the stae playoffs’” Bejarano said. “I told them we have the talent and we need to work on the mental aspect.”
Marshall scattered three hits, got out of three jams and struck out six Liberty batters to earn her fifth win.
“In the first inning I said, ‘I think I’ve got this,’ Marshall said. “After the first three runs, I felt really relieved and I knew my defense would back me. “