Liberty Bell High School baseball coach David Aspholm had been lamenting two phases of his team’s development this year: offense and defense.
Last week the offense showed up. After scoring a total of four runs in a three-game series with state 2B No. 2-ranked Brewster a week earlier, the Mountain Lions posted wins of 17-12 on Tuesday (April 18) at Okanogan and 9-2 over the Bulldogs at home Saturday (April 22), inserting a 12-1 no-hitter win over Bridgeport on Thursday (April 20). The only scar on the week was a pitchers’ duel opening loss to Okanogan in Saturday’s double header, by 5-4.
Several Mountain Lion starters took the night off against Bridgeport, or played in different roles as Liberty Bell defeated the Mustangs, 12-1. Grady Thrasher, Jake Grady and Greyden Paz combined for a no-hitter against the Mustangs, Paz earning the win in relief as the pitcher of record.
Bridgeport tagged starter Thrasher with their only unearned run in the first inning. After that, it was lights out for the Mustangs. Past the second inning, only one Mustang reached first, that on a full-count walk in the fourth inning.
Offensively, the Mountain Lions put up three runs in each of the first two innings. A six-spot in the third inning put the game out of reach, highlighted by a Lucien Paz inside-the-park home run, and Damon Alumbaugh’s ensuing triple.
In the double-header opener on Saturday, winning pitcher Carson Boesel threw six innings, scattering six Liberty Bell hits and striking out seven as the Bulldogs outlasted Liberty Bell, 5-4. Boesel also helped himself with a solo home run, a moon shot in the fourth inning that looked like it might land in the pasture of the Crown S Ranch, across Twin Lakes Road from the Liberty Bell campus.
Mountain Lion starter Lucien Paz had kept the Bulldog bats off balance, blending a nasty breaking pitch with a zippy fastball for the first three innings. Liberty Bell tagged Boesel with three runs in the third inning. Boesel led off the fourth with his blast to left field and the Bulldogs batted around the order. They sent 10 men to the plate, scoring four runs on five hits and one Mountain Lion error. Lucien Paz reached base on a single in the fifth inning, advanced to third on an error in the outfield, then scored on a single by Alumbaugh to close out the scoring.
Damon Alumbaugh picked up the win in the second game on Saturday, giving up several long fly balls but keeping them in the park as the speedy Mountain Lion outfield tracked down most everything hit their direction. The Liberty Bell sophomore limited Okanogan to only three hits in his five innings of work.
“Damon kept them off balance with a ton of breaking pitches, then would come home with a fastball up in the zone that they just couldn’t react to very well,” said volunteer coach Bret Alumbaugh. “He was on a pitch count because we need him to throw on Tuesday versus Tonasket,” coach Alumbaugh explained of his son’s exit in the fifth inning.
With the double-header split, the Mountain Lions took two of three in the season series with Okanogan and moved a game ahead into 4th place in the CW2B League standings headed into the last week of the regular season. They played Tonasket Tuesday afternoon (April 25) in the first of a three-game series that will take them north for a double-header with the Tigers on Saturday. Winning that series could prove instrumental in vaulting the Lions over the Tigers into 3rd place headed into districts in two weeks.
They have one more home appearance on Tuesday (May 2), a non-league double-header with the Cle Elum Warriors. First pitch for game one will be at 3 p.m.
Redemption for soccer
Last week’s edition was all about how close the Mountain Lion lads have been playing with some solid league competition lately. What a difference a week makes. Liberty Bell is riding a stretch in which they have won three out of four matches, the one loss in a game with Okanogan that was, essentially, dominated by the hungry Lions.
“We’ve learned how to play with the teams that have been beating us,” said coach Mark Crum. “The boys are gaining confidence and now know that they can compete with anybody.”
They seem to have turned the tide with solid wins against Pateros, 5-1, and Oroville, 6-1, and returning the favor at Manson on Saturday, earning a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Trojans.
“We got hit with two handball calls late in the game Saturday with Okanogan,” said Crum. Because those calls came on players inside the goal box, they resulted in close-up penalty kicks, the Bulldogs scoring both late-game goals to come from behind to win the match at Mountain Lion stadium.
“We’ve been so close, but now it’s kinda turning for us,” said Crum in a sideline conversation late in the Oroville game as his charges led in the final two minutes 6-1, the eventual final score.
Bradyn Schmekel and Finn Simmons provided all the scoring punch for the resurgent Mountain Lions as they dominated the Pateros Billygoats last Tuesday (April 18) at Mountain Lion Stadium. Schmekel hit for two goals and Simmons earned the hat trick of three goals in the match. The Mountain Lions were able to provide some good game experience time for younger players. Crum singled out Oliver Peplow-Shaw and Ely Talbert for solid play and getting some good quality shots off at the Billygoat net.
Crum described the victory at Manson as a “redemption win,” the Mountain Lions bouncing back from a disappointing loss in the second overtime period two weeks ago to the Trojans at Liberty Bell. Like the first game, the verdict wasn’t settled in the regulation 80 playing minutes.
With the game tied at 1-1 when the game clock ran out, the two teams battled through two scoreless five-minute overtimes forcing the contest into a shootout. Each team gets five shots, one offensive player against the opposing goaltender. Each of the Mountain Lion attackers, Finn Simmons, Brodi Barber, Baker Smith and Jayden Hammer scored in the shootout, including freshman Aidan Sands with the game winner. Liberty Bell freshman net-minder Alex Ramsey-George stopped one Manson attempt to seal the victory. Hammer scored the one goal in regulation for the Mountain Lions.
It was way back, it seems, on March 23 when the Mountain Lions traveled to Okanogan to face the powerful Bulldogs, a game they lost by a score of 7-0. They had very few shots on goal as Okanogan peppered the Liberty Bell net with shots aplenty. Now that game serves as a measure of just how far the local boys have come.
Last Saturday at Liberty Bell, that measuring stick was reduced significantly as the Mountain Lions controlled the ball and the game for about 75 of the 80 minutes of game time. Riding a single goal by forward Finn Simmons, and shutout defense by goaltender Alex Ramsey-George, the Liberty Bell lads appeared headed for the upset win over the Bulldogs and an easily defined turning point for this young team.
While youth can be invigorating and energetic, it can also be a source of mistakes that come from hustle and inexperienced overachievement, which may have been the case on Saturday. Into the last couple of minutes, Okanogan turned up the heat on the Mountain Lion defense and Ramsey-George, pressing forward into the Lion zone, looking to get the ball into the net. Okanogan couldn’t make it happen during live action, but instead benefited from two hand ball calls from inside the goal box, setting up two successful penalty kicks from very short range, and clinching the late comeback win, 2-1.
“Yeah, that was definitely disappointing to not come away with that win. But it was a very valuable experience,” said Crum, “and it will help us in the playoffs, for sure.”
There are three more chances to catch Mountain Lion soccer at home this season as they close out the regular schedule with matches this Thursday (April 27) at 4:30 p.m. versus Tonasket in a huge game with district implications. Currently, the Mountain Lions sit in 6th place, one game behind Tonasket and only two games out of 4th-place Manson. On Saturday they take on 1st-place Brewster at 11 a.m. and close it out with Senior Day on Tuesday, May 2, when 2nd-place Bridgeport comes to Liberty Bell, kickoff at 4:30 p.m.
Edwards goes long in javelin
Liberty Bell junior javelin hurler Fischer Edwards headlined the North Central Washington Small School Invite at Cascade High School with a throw of 161 feet, 8 inches to claim 1st place in the meet and grab the top spot in the state 2B rankings, according to Athletic.net.
Other notable performances at that meet included personal records (PR) set by Holden Riggs in the 100-meter dash, George Chavez-Hernandez in the 400M, Aksel Thomson, Kyler Mitchell and Tristan Hover in the 800M, and Damien Spears in the discus. Holden Riggs and Omar Ortega also set PRs in the javelin at Cascade. Dexter Delaney (1st in the 1,600M, 3rd in the 800M) and Will Halpin (1st in the 3,200M) also sparkled. Isaiah Stoothoff also set a PR in the javelin, placing 3rd at the meet, about 20 feet behind his teammate Edwards.
On the girls’ side of the ledger, freshman Audrey Roman set a PR in the 100M, placing 7th overall. Nella Belcher, Kady Hammer and Nina Kominak also gave personal best performances in the 100M. Sandra Hernandez claimed the top spot in the 400M with a PR (1:05.5); Marit Nelson (PR 5:49.95) and Leki Albright ran 1-2, respectively in the 1,600M.
Savannah Bird, Kassie Bird and Valeria Huiton all set marks in the shot put; Hammer and Lilly Belcher just missed the shot put top 10 at 11th and 12th places, respectively. Lucy Riggs placed 9th in the discus, setting a personal best of 56 feet, 9 inches. Rio Lott and Sandra Hernandez placed 4th and 5th in the javelin. Liberty Bell took 2nd place in both the 4x200M and 4x400M relays for girls to close out the meet for the Mountain Lions.
A rather cold and breezy Saturday greeted the Mountain Lions as they disembarked the bus at Quincy High School on Saturday for the CLA Quincy Invitational Track and Field Meet. After an early season of personal marks for many Mountain Lion athletes, Saturday was a day to plan, adjust and survive the elements, compete and not necessarily go after records.
Twenty-six schools from the 1B, 2B, 1A and 2A Classes participated, all from Central Washington and the Columbia Basin, providing a peek into where athletes stand at the approximate midpoint of the 2023 season.
Top-10 Mountain Lion finishers on the girls’ side included Sandra Hernandez with 9th in the 400M, Marit Nelson 6th in the 800M and 4th in the 1,600M, and Leki Albright 2nd in the 3,200M.
Will Halpin won the 1,600M and Dexter Delaney was top runner in the 3,200M to lead the boys in Quincy. Aksel Thomson placed 10th in the 800M and Edwards, fighting the wind and nursing a bit of a muscle pull, was 5th in the javelin.
The Liberty Bell Invitational was held Tuesday afternoon at Liberty Bell High School. Look for results and full coverage in next week’s paper.
Lions outlast Oroville
Liberty Bell entertained Oroville on Tuesday (April 18) for a rescheduled tennis match with the Hornets, postponed earlier because of adverse weather. The results were good for the Mountain Lion netters, taking three of five boys’ matches and winning all five girls’ varsity matches. Boys’ No. 1 pair Connor Herlihy and Gannett Fisher remained undefeated as they won a pro-set match, 8-2. Levin Lott and Gavin Blank also won their match in a more traditional set format, 6-1, 6-0. In singles, No. 3 Mountain Lion Sunny Rickabaugh defeated Michael Fullmer while EZ Kirk and Angel Arellano both lost tough three-setters. Arrellano lost 7-6, 2-6, 3-6 to Jasper Burwell in the No. 1 match; Kirk lost to David Johnson 2-6, 6-3, 6-7.
On the girls’ courts, Amelia Evans won the No. 1 singles match over Kayla Clark, 7-5, 6-4. Claudia Gomez and Kara McMillan recorded forfeited wins and Oroville had no doubles teams.
Entiat was in town on Monday afternoon (April 24) to take on the Mountain Lions with a full slate of matches. The headline match featuring Entiat’s No. 1 pair taking on undefeated Herlihy and Fisher saw the Tiger pair come out on top, 6-4, 6-3. Other results from Monday were not available by press deadline.
With four matches yet to play before the start of the post season, Liberty Bell makes a trip to Soap Lake on Friday (April 28), then travels to Omak on Monday (May 1). They close out the season with two home matches, facing Pateros on Wednesday, May 3, then Tonasket comes in on Thursday, May 4, for Senior Recognition Day. The three home matches open at 4 p.m. with varsity singles and doubles, followed by the JV matches.
League win for softball
Liberty Bell entertained the Bridgeport Fillies on Thursday, earning their second league win of 2023 with a 22-21 football-like score. Saturday was a travel day to Okanogan to take on the state 2B No. 1 ranked Bulldogs in a doubleheader. Okanogan bested the Liberty Bell girls by scores of 16-1 and 11-1.
With two weeks to go, the Mountain Lions find themselves knotted with Tonasket for the 6th and final spot into districts, with three of their last four league games against the Tigers. They played game one on Tuesday at Liberty Bell. Wednesday (April 26) they travel to Oroville and on Saturday (April 29) to Tonasket for a critical double-header with the Tigers. Liberty Bell closes the regular season next Tuesday (May 2) with a non-league doubleheader versus the Cle Elum Warriors, first pitch at 3 p.m.