By Nolan Epstein (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Sporting a combined 11-0 record, Bolivar and Reeds Spring stepped onto the softball diamond on Thursday knowing they were in for a dogfight. Roughly an hour and a half following the first pitch, it was the Lady Liberators who came out on top.
Led by a strong two-run, three-hit performance from freshman hurler Katie Brooks, Bolivar (5-0) protected its home field and nabbed a tight 3-2 victory to stay perfect on the season.
Brooks continued to dazzle in the circle for the Lady Liberators – retiring the first ten Reeds Spring (7-1) batters she faced and 14 of her first 15. Seven of those 15 batters were retired via strikeout.
“I couldn’t ask any more from a freshman pitcher than what she did today,” Bolivar head coach Brian Thompson said of Brooks. “She has such an air of confidence to her. She did what she was supposed to do.”
Bolivar’s bats helped out Brooks with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth, but things started to get shaky for Brooks and the Lady Liberators in the top of the sixth as the Lady Wolves cut the 2-0 lead in half with a steal of home by freshman Victoria Scobee.
After a Reeds Spring throwing error allowed another Bolivar run to score in the bottom of the inning to stretch the lead to 3-1, the Lady Wolves threatened again while down to their final three outs.
In the seventh, Reeds Spring put runners on first and third with nobody out, looking to spoil the stellar outing by Brooks. But with junior Dusty Welch at the plate representing the go-ahead run, the Liberators had their biggest defensive moment of the young season – a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play as catcher Taylor Dial threw a strike to second base to nail the runner trying to steal.
“Oh, that was huge,” Brooks said of the clutch double play. “I definitely had faith in my catcher, though.”
Reeds Spring’s Courtney Scobee came home from third to score in the process, but it didn’t quite matter in the end as Brooks proceeded to strike out her final batter to officially put the game in the win column.
“I wasn’t really sure what we were going to bring,” Thompson added following the victory. “We came out, we had a goal in mind and we accomplished it. When they scored, we answered, and got that insurance run we needed. That’s the difference in the ball game.”
For the Lady Wolves, the difference lied on the defensive side as Reeds Spring committed an uncustomary five errors in the loss – putting a damper on a terrific outing in the circle by Erickson.
“You’re not going to win a lot of games making five errors,” said Reeds Spring head coach Scott Walker. “I’m not going to take anything away from (Brooks), but I’m not going to take away credit from what our kids have accomplished, either. You take five errors out of the mix and it’s about a 2-1 or 2-0 game in favor of us.”
In the win, Brooks also collected ten strikeouts while walking just two.
Bolivar travels to play Buffalo on Tuesday, while Reeds Spring comes home for a Tuesday contest against Marshfield.