Closing out the regular season at Manson, the Liberty Bell High School baseball team headed to districts as the No. 2 seed, sweeping a double-header with the Trojans, 12-2 and 20-3.
Freshman hurler Damon Alumbaugh went the distance in the afternoon tilt, striking out nine Manson batters, giving up only one earned run and scattering five hits over the full seven-inning game.
The Mountain Lions scored in all but the fourth inning, Alumbaugh leading the way offensively with three hits, three runs batted in and a run. Lucien Paz, Noah Holston and Grey Patterson each added two hits to the team total of 13.
In the nightcap, the Lion bats rattled off 11 hits to go with seven walks, with Eli Neitlich being plunked by Manson pitchers twice, to score 20 runs in five innings. Alumbaugh led the way offensively again, driving in five runs while reaching base twice courtesy of Trojan errors and once via a second inning, two-RBI double to center. Paz pitched his way to the win. Starter Neitlich completed the first two frames of the five-inning game.
In an earlier game that had no effect on the final league CW2B League standings, the Brewster Bears took down the Mountain Lions by a score of 12-1.Coach David Aspholm rested his top two pitchers, Damon Alumbaugh and David Kominak, in favor of providing some game experience to Noah Holston and Lucien Paz against the potent Bear batting lineup.
With their second-place regular season league finish, Liberty Bell earned a first-round bye in the district tournament. They will host the second-round game on Thursday (May 12) at Mountain Lion Field, first pitch at 4:30 p.m. The opponent will come out of a first-round matchup between No. 3 Okanogan and No. 6 Manson.
After that Thursday game, win or lose, the Mountain Lions will move down to Wenatchee on Saturday (May 14) for the third round, details dependent upon Thursday’s results. The tournament bracket is posted on the WIAA District 6 website: www.cwbathletics.com/m2/tourn.php?act=vt&tid=3605.
Weather limited the Mountain Lion tennis team this past week to just one match, a near clean sweep of the Lake Roosevelt Raiders on May 3. Rain postponed, and then canceled a match with Manson on Thursday (May 5) as there were not enough days left on the spring calendar to reschedule with the Trojans.
Angel Arrelano, Nathan Buck, Haizea Alvarez-Murua and Amelia Evans all won their singles matches while the pairs teams of Connor Herlihy/Gannet Fisher, Connor Gonzalez/Malcolm Bosco, Sophia Newton/Amelie Stracke and Alvarez-Murua/Stracke also swept their Raider match-ups. Gavin Blank won a mixed singles match and EZ Kirk lost a tough battle to Lake Roosevelt’s top men’s player.
District tournament play for the Liberty Bell raqueteers is next, with both girls and boys in action at the North Cascades Athletic Club (NCAC) in Omak this Wednesday (May 11). The boys’ tournament will continue on Saturday (May 14), again at the NCAC, with the girls picking up again on Wednesday (May 18).
The Liberty Bell distance contingent again swept to wins, this time at Bridgeport, to close out the regular season track and field meet schedule.
Leki Albright staved off a challenge from Brewster’s Kaydence Carrington in the 1,600-meter run. Crossing the finish line in a new personal record 5:32.43, the sophomore Mountain Lion nosed out Carrington by eight-tenths of a second.
While Albright and Carrington know each other well from the fall cross country season, this was the first time the two matched up in the 1,600M this spring. “Both are ranked in the top four [in state 2B] of the 1,600,” said Liberty Bell coach Erik Brooks. “Both will give District 6 potentially some excellent representation on the state level in a couple of weeks. They pushed each other well and both came away with new individual best marks.”
Dexter Delaney was again the winner in the boys’ 1,600M, running the four laps in 4:35.41. Teammate Will Halpin was close in 2nd at 4:42.21, a personal record for the sophomore. Aksel Thomson was oh, so close to a Mountain Lion sweep, only eight-tenths of a second behind Brewster’s Juan David Martinez, also setting a personal best of 4:55.09. Thomson also took fourth in the 800M run.
“Will is feeling better and better each race after coming back from an injury to start the season,” noted Brooks of Halpin. “He demonstrated another gear as well in closing out the 4x400M [relay] with a 58-second leg — which is good news for the qualifying meets ahead. Both kids [Delaney and Halpin] had terrific races, and Aksel also looked great in his final lap of the 1,600, breaking 5 minutes for the first time and feeling strong in a final tune-up for the 3,200M next week.”
Brooks also pointed toward Hunter Wolak, a sophomore and first-year runner this season, as having a successful meet. “He had the 1,600M performance of the day (5:57) by knocking 20 seconds off of his previous best and in breaking the 6-minute barrier for the first time,” the coach said.
Also notable as the Mountain Lions ramp-up toward the league championship meet at Liberty Bell this Wednesday afternoon (May 11) were Sandra Hernandez in the 200M and 400M dashes and javelin, as well as Morgan Spellman in the 200M dash and javelin, all placing highly enough to be considered as contenders for this week’s league championships.
The Liberty Bell softball program had only two dates scheduled this past week, a makeup double-header with the Bridgeport Fillies slated for Thursday (May 5) that was canceled, the Fillies lacking enough players to field a complete team. The second game, a Saturday single game at Tonasket, was postponed. With both teams tied in the standings for the fifth and sixth seeds into districts, and having split the season series, they were rescheduled to face off Tuesday (May 10) at Tonasket in a season finale to determine the seedings and home team for the first round of the playoffs.
With all of the cancelations and postponements in the other sports this past week, Mountain Lion boys’ soccer forged on ahead, playing four games in five days and going 2-2 over that span.
That rigorous schedule began Tuesday with a 5-0 loss to league leader and No. 5 state ranked Bridgeport.
“They had mostly juniors and seniors in their starting lineup,” lamented Liberty Bell head coach David Marz. “The midfield of Bridgeport was very effective stopping our attempts to advance the ball, and playing possession ball. We (only) had a couple shots on goal.”
Wednesday brought the Pateros Billygoats back to Liberty Bell for the final regular season match and Senior Recognition Night for Liberty Bell’s lone graduator, midfielder Kieran Quigley.
“Kieran is a natural when it comes to leadership,” said the coach. “That has meant so much for this year’s program with the number of underclassmen. I will miss his athleticism, dedication, insight and leadership.”
In the match, the Mountain Lions and Billygoats played to a 1-1 tie at the half. Earlier in the season, Liberty Bell shut out the visitors 5-0. This day saw a different Billygoat team. “They were ready to play soccer,” said Marz.
In the second half, Clyde McCarthy found the back of the net on what Marz called “an excellent volley shot,” to reestablish the lead early in the period.
But then, fate would play a role inside the game’s final two-minute mark for Quigley. He was fouled by a Pateros defender, setting up a direct kick about 30 yards out from the left front post of the Billygoat net. Quigley’s shot sailed just beyond the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper and into the net to ice the game at 3-1, the senior scoring the final goal of the Mountain Lions’ regular season, and propelling them into a one-game playoff with Tonasket for the final district playoff spot.
That match, scheduled the next day, found the Mountain Lions and Tigers meeting at Okanogan High School for a tough-fought contest. “It was pretty physical,” reported Marz. “The intensity of this match was on display from the first whistle.”
The teams went to the halftime break knotted at nil, a testament to the hard-nosed, gritty nature of the game. Mountain Lion freshman Braydn Schmekel broke the tie early in the second half, scoring on an “own goal,” a play where an offensive player makes contact with the ball, but doesn’t directly knock it into the goal, so doesn’t get the credit. In this case, apparently, the ball kicked by Schmekel rebounded off another player, or a goalpost, hitting a Tiger player and deflecting into the net. Liberty Bell got the goal, nobody got individual credit for it — 1-0, Mountain Lions.
Mountain Lion Goalkeeper Raiff Reichert was whistled for a foul in the goal box a few minutes later, setting up a penalty kick. Reichert guessed correctly on the direction of the kick, but it slipped by him and into the net for the tie at 1-1.
Schmekel managed to get a clean shot by the Tiger net-minder for the winning goal a few minutes later, and Liberty Bell hung on from there for the 2-1 win and a ticket into the district tournament.
The Mountain Lions hung tough, but as was the case in a number of regular season games, the Okanogan Bulldogs were just bigger, older and more experienced, sending the boys from the Methow Valley home and into the summer training season with a 2-0 loss.
With only one senior, and a roster loaded with freshmen and eighth-graders, it was just the second time in the 22 seasons of the Liberty Bell boys’ soccer program that the Mountain Lions qualified for the district post season tournament.
“We’re hoping we can keep the numbers up,” Marz said in reference to the record number of roster players this year. “We tried holding a couple of JV games so we could get some good quality minutes for some of the kids who just didn’t get to lay for the varsity. But those were hard to come by. I hope they don’t get discouraged and come back for next year. We’ll be bigger, more experienced. Better!”