Softball: Liberty tossed out of playoffs

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ARGYLE — It took two at-bats to undo Liberty Christian’s season on Friday night against San Antonio Holy Cross.

In a quick, pitching-oriented contest, Holy Cross capitalized on a walk and an error to squeeze out a 2-1 victory over Liberty in the area round of the TAPPS 5A softball playoffs, eliminating the Lady Warriors.

Holy Cross (19-12) advances to face either Houston St. Pius X or San Antonio St. Anthony in the regional round.

Liberty head coach Stephanie Ritter had told her team prior to the game about the costliness of mistakes in the postseason.

“You don’t usually have blowouts in playoffs,” Ritter said. “You usually have close games. One mistake and that can cost you the game.”

In the sixth inning, Holy Cross’ Julia Ibarra battled back from an 0-2 count and earned a walk on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Ibarra then stole second and was quickly rewarded for her patience and hustle.

Nicole Gomez smacked a tough but playable groundball through the legs of Liberty shortstop Anna Payne, sending Ibarra across the plate for the game-winning run.

With the Lady Warriors (13-11) down to their final three outs in the seventh inning, Liberty produced two hits and had runners on first and third base with one out in the inning.

Liberty’s lead-off batter and starting pitcher, Rachel Rainwater, hit a groundball to Holy Cross’ Brianna Casillas. Liberty’s Blayr Huff, who was on third base, strafed down the base line while watching Casillas.

Huff, representing the game-tying run, was caught directly between third basplayable groundball through the legs of Liberty shortstop Anna Payne, sending Ibarra across the plate for the game-winning run.

With the Lady Warriors (13-11) down to their final three outs in the seventh inning, Liberty produced two hits and had runners on first and third base with one out in the inning.

Liberty’s lead-off batter and starting pitcher, Rachel Rainwater, hit a groundball to Holy Cross’ Brianna Casillas. Liberty’s Blayr Huff, who was on third base, strafed down the base line while watching Casillas.

Huff, representing the game-tying run, was caught directly between third base and home plate. She broke toward home. Casillas threw the ball to catcher Maleri Gomez, who applied the tag moments before Huff’s outstretched hand swiped the plate for the second out of the inning, ending the threat.

Ibarra (10-9) notched her lone strikeout of the game for the final out, silencing the two bleachers packed with Liberty supporters and sending the Knights’ fans into a series of congratulatory hugs.

The game’s first pitch was delayed 1 1/2 hours after the Holy Cross bus was stuck in traffic on Interstate 35. Lady Knights head coach Angel Cedillo said it took the team 5 1/2 hours to travel from Waco to Argyle for the game.

Instead of having a scheduled two hours to warm up, Holy Cross had about 35 minutes to get ready for the contest. Cedillo credited a great week of practice and the team’s tough district schedule for the victory.

“I think what helped us an awful lot was seeing really, really good competition throughout district,” Cedillo said. “And of course, these kids do so many things well.”

On the other side of the diamond, Ritter credited Rainwater for her pitching performance, as well as limiting mistakes. Rainwater (6-5) only allowed three hits and one earned run in the loss.

Looking back on the season, Ritter was pleased with a second-place finish in District 1-5A for the second straight season. Ritter didn’t believe the team was going to finish as well as it did considering a rough in preseason and the regular season, where the Lady Warriors committed 10 errors in their opening contest.

“We’ve come from worse to better,” Ritter said. “We’ve come a long way.”

Seniors Nicole Kornet, Kelsey Finch, McKenzie Middle and Blayr Huff each played their last game for Liberty.


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