Softball: Liberty's magical season comes to a close

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Cave Spring 3, Liberty 0

By Denton Day

By: Denton Day
Sports Editor

Despite retiring the final 14 batters during Friday’s 3A State Semifinal game against Cave Spring, Liberty’s magical playoff run came to an end in a 3-0 loss.


With the Liberty fans that traveled nearly an hour looking on from right outside the fence, Head Coach Mike Thompson and the Liberty softball team huddled up and embraced one final time in the 2018 season.


“I just told them that this season was a season,” Thompson said. “It wasn’t a two hour season. The last two hours didn’t go to our liking but you’re talking a matter of several months here and I just couldn’t have expected more out of these girls.”


“I’m so proud of them,” Thompson added.


Cave Spring quickly jumped ahead with a pair of hits that drove in two runs in the game’s opening inning.


In the bottom of the frame Taylor Friess responded by sending a pitch back towards the right field wall–the ball came about 12 inches short of a solo-shot. Friess settled for a leadoff triple to start the inning.


Cave Spring’s defense got itself out of that jam by forcing Rieley Taylor to bunt into a double play, clearing the bases.


Rebecca Hensley reached base on a two-out single and proceeded to steal second to put herself in scoring position with Kacey Whorley at the plate. Just as Friess had earlier in the inning, Whorley launched a ball deep into the outfield that came just short of landing over the fence. Only this time the ball fell right into the glove of a Cave Spring defender to end the inning.


“If we’re playing at our little place it might be a 3-2 game,” Thompson said. “We hit two to the warning track and this place is about 15 feet further than our place. Of course, no excuses, but we hit the ball pretty hard and just didn’t get anything out of it.”


The first inning turned out being Liberty’s best opportunity to put points on the board. The Lady Knight defense consistently found themselves under balls that Liberty put in play and limited the Lady Minutemen’s base runners.


Cave Spring added a run in the top of the third to take a 3-0 lead. The third inning would be the last inning that a Lady Knight reached a base. Millie Thompson and the Liberty defense retired 14 consecutive batters in the final four and two-third innings to keep the Lady Minutemen within striking distance.


“The last innings I felt more loose and a lot more confident,” Millie Thompson said. “Everyone was backing me up great.”


Liberty had one final chance in the seventh inning to find a little bit of magic. Paige Naples took a pitch to the hip to reach first with two outs. But the Lady Minutemen were unable to move her and Cave Spring defeated Liberty 3-0.


Hensley is the team’s lone senior. Hensley was named Seminole District player of the year and will be playing softball at Roanoke College next season.


“Everybody says ‘well you only have one senior’ but that senior was the catalyst. We’re certainly going to miss Rebecca next year.”


Liberty’s season concludes with a 21-3 record, a regular season Seminole District Championship–the Seminole District Tournament was cancelled–the schools first ever region championship and the team’s first ever appearance in the state tournament.


“A bunch of girls that wanted to play softball,” Mike Thompson said describing his team. “They just enjoyed playing the game and they played it really hard.”