KANSAS CITY — The Liberty girls tennis team competed in the Class 2 Sectional 7 tournament and advanced a few players to state on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Plaza Tennis Center.
In the team portion of sectionals, five-time defending state champion Columbia Rock Bridge handed Liberty a 5-2 loss.
The Blue Jays, the seven-time district champs, advanced an individual and a doubles team to state as part of individual sectionals.
Colby Kelley claimed a sectional championship, while Samantha Seggerman and Rebecca Floray won a doubles title.
Kelley won by the scores of 6-2, 6-2, and Seggerman-Floray recorded wins of 6-2, 6-1.
For Liberty North, a doubles team and one individual competed in sectionals, but both sides didn’t advance to state.
The Eagles’ Georgia Carter dropped her singles match 6-0, 6-0, and Lily Reeder and Claire Mason teamed up in a 6-0, 6-0 loss.
Later in the day, Rock Bridge dropped its first team state playoff match, 5-4 to St. Teresa’s Academy.
The state tournament will take place at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield Thursday, Oct. 24 to Saturday, Oct. 26.
Second-seeded Liberty survived a major scare in the other semifinal contest.
Third-seeded Park Hill South rallied with three runs in the top of the sixth inning to knot the score at 4-all. But the Blue Jays tallied four runs with two outs in the bottom half to send the hosts over a resilient Panthers squad 8-4 and advance to the finals.
“They were going to keep coming,” Liberty coach Scott Howard said of Park Hill South, a team that the Blue Jays beat twice during the season. “I was just proud how we didn’t let that shut us down and how we got the lead back. I was really happy to see that.”
With the win, the Blue Jays allowed an all-Liberty district final. First pitch between crosstown rivals Liberty and Liberty North is set for 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at Liberty High School.
The Eagles won both crosstown games in one-run affairs during the regular season, accounting for half of the Blue Jays’ losses.
“We tried to talk to them about not thinking about playing North, but it’s hard,” Howard said. “It’s in the back of their head and I think it showed a little bit tonight.”
In the late-game two-out rally, Ashton Maloney delivered the first blow, singling up the middle to break the 4-4 deadlock.
Amayiah Hall then loaded the bases with a single before Kayla Shelton scored from third after being caught in between third and home to give Liberty a 6-4 advantage.
Moments later, Kelsee Mortimer drove in a pair of runs with a single to cap the scoring.
Lauren Slocum earned the victory with two innings of relief work. She threw a scoreless top of the seventh and struck out three batters. Brooke Niemeier pitched five complete innings and had two strikeouts.Sports Editor Adam Burns can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 389-6643.