The Liberty Bell High School softball and baseball teams came out of spring vacation on Saturday (April 9) with a pair of non-league, double-header sweeps over the 1A Caribou Trail League member Cashmere Bulldogs.
The girls took both games with Cashmere’s JV squad, 16-3 and 25-5. The boys, in a full-on varsity match-up, got the best of the Bulldogs, 8-1 and 13-4.
On the softball diamond, the Mountain Lions were in control from the start, jumping out to a 8-0 margin through the first two innings. MJ Mihalic crossed the plate first after landing at third base on the strength of triple and a Cashmere error in the bottom of the first inning. Kora Gilbert touched home for the second run after being hit by a pitch and taking advantage of a Cashmere error, combined with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field by Cassidy Jones-Mowen.
Katelyn Budrow opened the scoring in the second frame, when Liberty Bell would bat through the order. The Mountain Lions took advantage of four stolen bases, several Cashmere errors and a couple of walked and hit batters. When the dust cleared, Liberty Bell had put up 6 more runs.
Cashmere would cross the plate three times in the top of the third inning, but that was all they could muster as the pitching combination of Mihalic and Bailey Thomson overpowered the Bulldogs. The home-field girls added two more in the third, six in the fourth innings and the game was called on the 10-run mercy rule after the Bulldogs couldn’t close the gap after the top of the fifth inning.
In the second game, the Mountain Lion bats exploded for 25 runs in four innings. In a baseball scoring oddity, Hannah Simmons was 0-0 in official at bats, yet led the Mountains, scoring five runs. Simmons reached base all five times she came to the plate, three by walks and twice being hit by the pitch.
“I didn’t know until just before game time that we would be playing the Cashmere JV,” said coach Chad Surface, “so we elected to just not say anything to the girls. They figured it out, but still played really well. There was a lot of good stuff.”
“The good part was, we were making a lot of good throws. The ball was going where it was supposed to go,” said Surface. “We had a couple of overthrows on the day, but they were throwing it to the right place. Maddie [Mihalic] and Bailey [Thomson] traded off pitching in the two games and did really well. Bailey threw her best pitches of the season, so far.”
Mihalic recorded two triples and a double over the double-header, and Budrow raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run in game two for the day’s hitting highlights.
Monday’s (April 11) home-double header with the Bridgeport Fillies was postponed when the valley was graced by an early spring light blanket of white. That double-header has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 3, at Liberty Bell, first pitch at 3:30 p.m.
Immediately on the schedule, the Mountain Lions host the Tonasket Tigers at 4:30 p.m. this Thursday (April 14), followed by a Saturday (April 16) double-header with the Oroville Hornets, first pitch at 11 a.m. On Monday (April 18) the girls hit the road for a 3:30 p.m. double-header at Bridgeport.
In the boys’ sweep, Damon Alumbaugh pitched four complete innings in game one, giving up only two hits and a first-inning run, striking out three and keeping the Bulldog batters off balance throughout. Mac Surface entered in the top of the fifth and was very steady, giving up only one hit, and facing only 11 batters in three full innings of work.
The Mountain Lion pitchers were helped by some solid defensive efforts, including two spectacular diving plays. Cashmere’s Dawson Spies, after reaching first on a fielding error by freshman shortstop Lucien Paz, was caught stealing second base in the second inning. It took a perfect throw from catcher Noah Holston to a diving Paz.
It was Connor Arndt’s turn in the top of the seventh inning. Cashmere’s Easton Erdmann led off with a first-pitch smack to right field, bending toward the foul line. The ball began sinking rapidly as Arndt, in a dead sprint, lunged forward, extended his glove and snagged the ball just as he hit the ground.
In the second game, Holston traded in his catcher’s gear to Alumbaugh for his turn on the mound, starting the game and pitching solidly in the first two innings. As in the first game, the Bulldogs tagged the Lions with the first run of the game, another unearned run set up by a Mountain Lion error.
But that 1-0 lead didn’t last long as the home team came up in the second and tattooed the Cashmere staff for eight hits and 10 runs. Liberty Bell sent 14 batters to the plate, four of them issued free passes on walks.
Cashmere mounted a bit of an insurrection in the third inning, crossing the plate three times off of Zane Strome. Strome battled through that, then came out in the fourth inning, getting the Bulldogs to go three-up and three-down to complete his two innings in the pitch-by-committee nightcap. Lucien Paz would close out the fifth, sixth and seventh, facing only two above the minimum, collecting three strike-outs and surrendering only two harmless singles.
Coach David Aspholm was satisfied with the sweep in the non-league doubleheader. “We really cleaned up the fielding issues today,” he said, referring to some pre-spring break and early season glove- and throwing-related foibles. With only three errors over the two games, and some spectacular play in the field by a still young team, there is reason for optimism.
“Remi Paz has center field nailed down,” noted the coach. “He’s got great speed, but makes it look so easy.”
Indeed, the younger of the Paz brothers, the eighth-grade centerfielder chased down a fly ball to the left center power alley that seemed destined for the fence.
Liberty Bell extends its mid-season home stand on Saturday (April 16) as they entertain the Oroville Hornets in an 11 a.m. double-header, followed by an important tilt with the Brewster Bears on Tuesday (April 19), first pitch at 4:30 p.m.
Mountain Lions tennis, track and field and boys’ soccer return to action later this week.
The soccer schedule is active with a match at Brewster on Wednesday (April 13), then matches on Thursday (April 14) versus Bridgeport, Monday (April 18) against Pateros, and the Tonasket JV comes to Liberty Bell next Wednesday (Aug. 20).
Tennis traveled to Manson on Tuesday this week (results were after press time), hosts Okanogan Thursday (April 14), travels to Soap Lake on Tuesday (April 19) and hosts Pateros on the following Thursday (April 21).
The Mountain Lion track and field team hits the road for Cashmere and the Bulldog Invite on Saturday (April 16), with the first of two home meets on Tuesday (April 19). The Liberty Bell Invite gets underway at 4 p.m. on the track at Mountain Lion Stadium.