Liberty softball looks forward despite Canby defeat
After an opening loss to Banks during last week's Glencoe Tournament at Hillsboro Stadium, the Liberty Falcons defeated Gresham and North Salem before suffering a narrow defeat to Canby of the Three Rivers League in the tournament's finale Friday, March 30.
But despite the 12-9 loss to the Cougars, Liberty softball head coach Jordyn Brown was pleased with her team's effort and is looking forward to their further development during the upcoming Metro League season.
"I think we're in a good place," Brown said. "There are still things we need to clean up, of course, but I think we can sneak up on some teams and be a bit more of a problem than we've been in the past."
The Falcons dug themselves a fairly deep hole early in the game, allowing five Canby runs before getting on the board in the bottom of the fourth with two runs of their own. But after allowing six Cougar runs in the sixth, Liberty scratched seven across in the last two innings to mount a serious threat to what had looked like a blowout for Canby — and, in the process, the girls showed their coach a little of what they're made of.
"Definitely proud of my team, the way they came back," said Brown. "I think I had to pull it out of them a bit, and I think their focus was a little off, but the way they fought made me proud. To go from down by nine to losing by just three was good to see."
Liberty was led by Angelica Colbert, who finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs, and freshman Zoe Allen, who also tallied two hits while driving in a pair.
Senior Emily Cundall started the game for the Falcons in the circle. Despite her struggles against Canby, she will be leaned heavily upon by Brown and her Falcon teammates to carry the load this season.
"She's our only (dedicated) pitcher, so she's obviously important," said a chuckling Brown. "But while good in the circle, she's also a great hitter, so her presence is something we'll definitely lean on."
In addition to Cundall, Liberty will count on infielders Colbert and Raegan Kirsop to provide the necessary leadership to pace the Falcons. Their experience, coupled with the emotional spark provided by Abigail McCarthy, is something Brown is looking forward to watching develop into tangible factors on the field.
"Raegan Kirsop and Angelica Colbert are the core of this team," Brown said. "They've been on varsity since they were freshmen, so knowing our team and knowing the teams were playing against really helps. ... Abigail McCarthy has been sick, and we're not sure when we're going to get her back, but she's a leader in the dugout, keeping the team up."
After falling behind 5-0, Liberty struck in the bottom of the fourth, when Cundall drove in Natasha Stubbs with a fielder's choice, then Allen — who had singled on a bunt towards third base — scored the Falcons' second run when Colbert doubled to left. Canby made it 11-2 in the sixth, then 12-4 heading to the bottom of the seventh, before Liberty made their final push.
A leadoff error followed by consecutive singles by Grace Davis and Myranda Candlish loaded the bases. Then a fielder's choice plated the inning's first run, and when Allen again singled, Colbert doubled and Haley Peebles singled to center, it was 12-9 and Liberty had the tying run in the on-deck circle with two outs. Katelyn Bickford flew out to deep center to end the game.
Brown pointed to the positive outcomes for the Falcons from the week's experience.
"I think our first game against North Salem, we played alright, and it was against a team we were supposed to beat. So I think coming into this game against Canby, we weren't as prepared as we should've been as far as our energy and focus," said the coach. "But overall, we found out what we need to work on and improve upon, and we played good and fought back."
And what were some of the things that need work?
"The little things," Brown said. "Cleaning up the errors, fundamentals like backing up when we need to, the little things that make this game happen. And we will, and I'm excited to see us continue to grow."