Despite Dropping Two Games to 5A No. 10 Linn-Mar on Thursday No. 12 Liberty High Appears Playoff Ready
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NORTH LIBERTY – Liberty High and Linn-Mar have spent virtually the entire regular season ranked in Class 5A, leaders of the MVC’s Mississippi Division and teams that look like they belong at the state tournament.
Both games of Thursday’s doubleheader between the two looked and felt like postseason games.
It was tenth-ranked Linn-Mar that appeared most postseason prepared on Thursday.
The Lions squeaked out a pair of one-run wins over No. 12 Liberty High Thursday in North Liberty winning the opener 2-1 and taking the nightcap 7-6 to improve to 33-4 on the season and 28-2 in MVC play.
“That was 13 innings of really good softball. We needed to see those two pitchers and we needed to see that kind of a team,” Liberty High coach Mike Morrison said. “They are a really good team, I think they probably underrated, that was what we need is to see the better pitching.”
Liberty High, which was coming off a doubleheader split with Waterloo West on Wednesday, dropped to 25-12 on the season and 20-9 in MVC play.
Despite the losses, Liberty High showed it could compete with the best around on Thursday.
Liberty High outhit Linn-Mar 16-15 in the doubleheader and had chances late in both games.
“I think we struggled last night and I think some of that was energy and focus and I thought we did what we needed to do tonight,” Morrison said. “We played with a lot of heart, I thought played really pretty clean softball other a couple of plays.
After playing from behind for most of the opener Liberty High had the tying run on third with one out in the seventh inning after an RBI single by Ella McLaughlin plated Kinsley Robertson who led off the inning with a single.
Beck got Brynlee Slockett to pop out and got Mischa Reiners swinging to end the game.
Liberty High took its first lead of the night when Kennedy Daugherty pounded a two-run home run to center field in the bottom of the fifth that gave the Lightning a 5-4 lead.
Linn-Mar again had an answer this time on offense as Kaylee Bunn lined a three-run double off the right field wall to give the Lions a 7-5 lead.
Liberty High got a run back in the bottom of the inning but Linn-Mar pitcher Emily Koranda escaped a mini jam by getting Kennedy Daugherty and Robertson to pop out to end the game.
Robertson and Daugherty were both solid in the circle for Liberty High on Thursday.
Daugherty took the loss in game two allowing seven runs, four earned, on nine hits while Robertson allowed just two runs on six hits and struck out nine in the opener.
“Our pitchers were fantastic,” Morrison said. “We’ve pushed them to the limits and they’ve done a nice job and responded really well.”
Liberty High returns to action on Saturday at the Rick Doran Classic in Iowa City against Class 3A fourth-ranked West Liberty.
“We will get back it tomorrow morning, get a few things cleaned up and get ready for the next one,” Morrison said. “I couldn’t be happier with where we are at right now especially with the idea that we still think we have time to get better.”
Linn-Mar 010 000 1 – 2 6 1
Liberty High 000 000 1 – 1 5 0
W – Jordyn Beck L – Kinsley Robertson
2B – ICL: Haileigh Smith, Haley Schroeder. L-M: Emily Koranda, Megan Heidelbauer
Linn-Mar 011 020 3 – 7 9 3
Liberty High 011 030 1 – 6 11 2
W – Emily Koranda L – Kennedy Daugherty
2B – ICL: Mallory Jones. L-M: Anna Streff, Claire Michael, Megan Heidelbauer, Hannah Gralund, Kaylee Bunn
HR – ICL: Kennedy Daugherty