Liberty Bell’s distance runners again shone brightly Saturday (March 26) at the Ray Cross Invitational at Ephrata High School.
Running the 1,600 meters, Mountain Lion sophomore Leki Albright inserted herself in the top 10 of mostly 2A, 3A and 4A schools, crossing the line in 4th spot, and easily the top “B” classification runner. Her time of 5:34.96 was good for a career personal best, and currently leads the Washington 2B classification statewide.
Albright doubled in the 800M, registering a time of 2:36.72 and placing 7th in the field of 27 runners.
On the boys’ side, freshman Dexter Delaney (4:41.71) ran to a 3rd-place finish on the heels of two North Central (Spokane-3A) runners, and edging Ethan LaBonte of 4A Moses Lake. Carter Timm of Central Washington B League rival Tonasket finished in the 5th spot about 12 seconds behind Delaney. Like Albright, it was a personal record in the 1,600M for the Liberty Bell frosh, and places him second among 2B 1,600M runners so far this young season, behind Zeke Crockett of Chewelah.
Sophomore Aksel Thomson crossed the finish line 5th in the 3,200M run, clocking a 10:44.77 time. Thomson’s effort also set a personal best mark and places him at the No. 2 spot on the season’s early statewide ranking list.
Other top-20 placers for Liberty Bell at the annual early Grant County spring meet included Delaney’s 14th place in the 800M run, Fischer Edwards’ javelin throw of 75 feet, 1.5 inches, good for 14th, and Sandra Hernandez’ 11th and 19th places in the 400M and 200M runs, respectively.
A trip to Oroville this Thursday (March 31) is next up on the Mountain Lion track and field calendar, with a two-week break before the Brewster Co-Ed relays on Tuesday, April 12. Liberty Bell hosts the first of two home high school meets on April 19. Coach Erik Brooks is always looking for meet officials and volunteers. Interested persons should contact Activities Director Michael Wilbur at 996-2215.
The Liberty Bell High School softball team opened the 2022 fast-pitch season at Tonasket on March 23 with a hard-fought and competitive battle, but came up just short in a 6-5 loss to the Tigers.
Sophomore MJ Mihalic, new to the program this year, went the full seven innings on the mound for the Mountain Lions, blending a solid mix of fastballs and change-of-pace, keeping the Tigers off balance and off the base paths.
Several players had standout opening-day performances. Another newcomer, freshman Violet Chrastina, reached base three of her four at bats and was solid defensively, earning a game ball from her teammates and the praises of the coaching staff.
“She had a great game hitting and fielding the ball,” said first-year assistant coach Kris Mihalic. “MJ fought hard,” reported the coach of her sophomore daughter. “Her change was epic.”
Freshman Bailey Thomson contributed to the offensive effort, reaching base in three trips to the plate and scoring twice.
In the end, it was not quite enough as Tonasket scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to claim the win for their first league and regular season win.
Then it was down valley to Pateros and a March 26 double-header split with the Nannies, the Mountain Lions winning the first game, 15-6, and Pateros taking the nightcap, 9-8.
Liberty Bell put up nine runs in the second inning of game 1, essentially putting the game out of reach early. MJ Mihalic and Thomson and combined to hold the Pateros hitters at bay. Kayden Clapp highlighted the offensive onslaught with a home run, adding another four-bag round trip augmented by Pateros errors.
“We had some great base running by MJ, Katelyn Budrow and Abby Wengerd,” said Assistant Coach Mihalic. “First-time players Hannah Simmons and Heidi DeVlieg were solid on base running and steals. Helaina Remsburg stole home with an epic slide.”
Defensively might be where the Mountain Lions seem to be really improving over past years. Freshman Cassidy Jones-Mowen is picking up the catching position quickly, according to Coach Mihalic.
“Cassidy snagged a couple of fly balls from behind the plate, and is really learning the position. Jadyn Mitchell plays a solid third base and had several strong throw-outs to Rio Lott at first base,” the coach said.
MJ Mihalic went the distance for Liberty Bell in the second game. Liberty Bell jumped out to 3-0 lead, but a five-run, three-hit third inning did in the visitors. “Pateros’ bats just got hot,” said Coach Mihalic.
The teams went to the seventh inning, Pateros with a two run lead at 9-7. Budrow walked, then advanced around the bases to score and pull the Lions to within one, but that was all they could muster as Nannies’ pitching closed it out with two strikeouts for the win.
Thursday (March 31) is the first home date of the season. Traditional power Okanogan comes to Liberty Bell, with the first pitch at 4:30 p.m. Then it’s spring break time on campus. The girls resume action on Saturday, April 9, in a home double-header against Caribou Trail’s Cashmere Bulldogs in a non-league matchup, first pitch at 11 a.m.
Liberty Bell traveled to Chelan for an afternoon single non-league game with the Goats on March 22. Chelan took advantage of four Mountain Lion errors and hammered out 12 hits en route to a six inning, 10-0 shutout of the young Lions.
A double by Noah Holston, and a Sawyer Crandall single, were all the Liberty Bell batters could muster against Chelan’s pitching as Loew and Woodley teamed up for the Goats to record 10 strikeouts and allow only one additional baserunner on a walk.
It was on to Okanogan Saturday (March 26) for an early season double-header with the league rival Bulldogs, and a split twin bill. Okanogan took the first game, 6-3, and the Mountain Lions bounced back big in the second game with a 14-3 eruption.
In the first game, Liberty Bell tallied the first run of the game when Eli Neitlich connected for a first-inning single, scoring David Kominak, on board courtesy of a free pass issued by Okanogan starter Boesel.
Liberty Bell returned the favor in the bottom of the first, Okanogan taking advantage of a walk, three hits and an error to take a 4-1 lead into the second. The Bulldogs added a fifth run in the third inning, before Liberty Bell got going in the fourth. Neitlich was hit by a pitch, moved along to second on a Crandall bunt single, took third on an error at the plate by the Okanogan catcher and scored on a sacrifice fly by Remy Paz.
Crandall scored from third on a wild pitch and it looked like the Mountain Lions were on their way back. With the bases loaded, two outs and Noah Holston at the plate, Boesel got the Liberty Bell senior to ground into the third out and that was that. Okanogan added one more in the bottom of the sixth inning.
In game two, the Mountain Lion bats awoke as they put 14 runs on Okanogan, pounding out 10 hits and taking advantage of three Bulldog errors to earn the split. David Kominak, Damon Alumbaugh and Grey Patterson each had double-hit days. Alumbaugh, Lucien Paz and Kominak also had two runs batted in to their credit.
Alumbaugh went the distance on the mound for the win, giving up only two hits, striking out six and issuing only two bases on balls in the six innings of work.
For coach David Aspholm, the win was a nice way to get league play underway.
“We’re still working on cutting out the errors, though,” he said. Liberty committed five fielding errors in the 14-3 win.
Liberty Bell is on the road to Tonasket for a March 30 single game, then a travel date at Ephrata for JV action on April 1. First action at home comes up on Saturday, April 9, as the Cashmere Bulldogs come to Liberty Bell for an 11 a.m., non-league double-header.
The Mountain Lions are 3-2 on the young season and 1-1 in NC Washington B League play.