BLUE SPRINGS — Three straight district softball titles and back-to-back state quarterfinal appearances.
Those are the accomplishments of the 2019 Liberty softball seniors.
Blue Jays coach Scott Howard spoke highly of his four seniors — Madi Goodner, Raeli Howerton, Kelsee Mortimer and Brooke Niemeier — following Liberty’s 13-6 state quarterfinal loss to Blue Springs South on Saturday, Oct. 26.
“I’m just proud of what they’ve done,” Howard said. “They’ve been great. They’ve carried on the tradition and they got after it and worked. They’re going to leave a good example for the younger kids.”
The defending state champion Jaguars (18-6) pounded four home runs on 13 hits to down the Blue Jays in the state quarterfinal round for a second straight season.
“When you’re going against the defending champs that pretty much have everybody back, I thought we had a good shot at it,” Howard said.
The loss brought an 11-game winning streak to an end and promptly concluded the season 24-5 and one game shy of a final four trip to Springfield.
“I hate to see it end for the seniors and this group of kids,” Howard said. “It’s just one of those things where only four get to go and we just didn’t quite get there.”
Blue Springs South, who return to the state semifinals for a fourth straight year, recorded back-to-back home runs to take a 5-0 lead in the first inning before adding a single tally in the second for a 6-0 advantage.
But the Blue Jays responded with three runs in the second and two in the third. Ashton Maloney drove in a run and Amayaiah Hall produced a two-run single before Howerton hit a two-run homer to trim the lead to one.
The Jaguars, however, continued to hit. Blue Springs South batted around in the third, plating seven runs to take a 13-5 lead into the fourth inning.
Niemeier hit a solo shot to center in the sixth, but that proved to be the Blue Jays’ final hit.
Hall, a junior, finished 2-for-2 with two singles and a pair of RBI, while Mortimer was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
Liberty reached the state quarters after a 5-4 walk-off win over Park Hill at home on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Freshman Olivia Branstetter hit a game-tying RBI single to set up a Niemeier RBI double to deep right, sending the home crowd happy. Howerton led off the inning with a triple.
“It felt really good actually,” Niemeier said after the win. “You know coming off the bat if it’s good or not, and I thought it was gone but it was just short. But it still worked.”
Mortimer was 2-for-4 with a triple and a double, while Hall, Branstetter and Howerton each had a pair of hits.