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Your Prep Sports
OXFORD – History was made on Monday in the softball doubleheader between Clear Creek Amana and Liberty High School, and so was a statement by the host team.
The Clippers fell behind 1-0 in both games at home, but stormed back to win both games by identical 13-1 scores, and did so in just 2 ½ innings due to the 12-run mercy rule after three innings.
“The girls brought a lot of energy tonight,” said Clear Creek coach Matt Trosky. “They played really, really hard. They had a great plate approach. Coach (Blake) Wilson, our hitting instructor, has spent a lot of time with them about their mental approach and they took a lot of good pitches and we found a way to score. They did a great job on the base paths. The girls really worked hard tonight.”
Monday’s doubleheader was the season opener for both teams and the first softball games played at the varsity level in the history of Liberty High School, which opened last fall.
There were some bright spots for the Lightning, most notably the triple and two doubles that were belted by sophomore star Brylee Klosterman, who played for West High the past two seasons.
But the lack of experience and the inability of the Liberty pitchers to throw strikes was too much to overcome.
Liberty’s varsity roster includes 19 freshmen, four sophomores and two eighth graders.
That youth was exposed on the mound where the Liberty pitchers combined to walk 19 batters in the two games.
Trosky expects the two schools whose boundaries touch to build a rivalry over time.
“Probably down the road,” Trosky said. “They’re going to be a good ball club. I know they’re young in some spots. But he’s a great coach and they’re a great ball club.”
Trosky was referring to Liberty coach Jeff Kelly, who huddled with his players in right field for over 20 minutes after Monday’s doubleheader.
It isn’t easy starting from the ground up, especially without having any upperclassmen on the roster.
The Clippers are also very young, with just one senior and two juniors on their roster. But most of the girls have played together for years, and some, namely sophomore shortstop Karsyn Stratton, already have shown star potential at the varsity level.
Stratton struggled at the plate in the first game, striking out in her first two appearances. But she recorded a bunt single in her third at bat that helped to fuel a rally.
“This is a great group of girls,” Trosky said. “They’ve worked really, really hard. Our mantra this year has been relentless effort and everybody tonight worked that way. We picked each other up. All the girls in the dugout were really high energy.
“And it’s one of those things where everybody is going to have their night, Karsyn started out struggling a little bit, but she finished with a great bunt for a hit and that kind of got here going offensively and it really jump started the team.”
Junior Katie Pitlick drove in four runs in the first game, while sophomore pitcher Raina Henze recorded five strikeouts in just three innings. After allowing a single to Ashlyn Geasland and a run-scoring triple to Klosterman to start the game, Henze struck out the side in the top of first inning to quell the rally.
She repeatedly threw her off-speed pitches for strikes and that kept most of the Liberty batters off balance.
“That’s probably my main pitch,” Henze said of her change-up. “With these coaches, it’s one of my strongest pitches. I’ve been working on it for a while. I enjoy throwing it.”
Liberty High 100 – 1 4 0
Clear Creek Amana 11 2x – 13 5 1
Kara Maiers, Eva Stewart (1) and Claire Geiman; Raina Henze and Lydia Banwart. 2B – Brylee Klosterman (L). 3B – Klosterman (L).
Liberty High 100 – 1 3 3
Clear Creek Amana 94x – 13 7 1
Kinsley Robertson, Delaney alberts (1), Ashlyn Geasland (2) and Rhianna Maakestad; Peyton Grafft and Ainsley Schrock. 2B – Klosterman, Ainsley Schrock.