Freedom’s Madison Williams threw a complete game, and only one of the three runs she allowed was earned. Williams spread out seven hits while walking no one and striking out 10 Monte Vista batters. “I think that the biggest thing was that she didn’t walk people and she moved the ball around the plate,” said Freedom Manager Jeff Jonas.
“We kind of figured it would be tough,” he added. “You’re not just going to go against this team and throw it dead red down the middle and expect nothing to happen. They’re going to hit it hard. She moved it around; they still got their hits and still put pressure on us.
“As a former pitcher, I can tell you, you go up two strikes and this game gets a lot easier. I was confident with her because she wasn’t giving up walks. And I figure that as long as we’re not giving it to them free, our defense can come up with the plays.”
Freedom took an early lead when Kim Westlund scored on a Malena Padilla single. Westlund was called out at the plate but was ruled safe when the field umpire charged the Mustang shortstop with interference. An upset appeared possible when Monte Vista took the lead in the third inning on two unearned runs. But the Falcons came alive after that and dominated the rest of the game.
After Kristie Strelo drew a leadoff walk in the third, Westlund drove a ball to the right field fence. The ball was dropped by the right fielder, leaving the Falcons with runners on second and third and no outs. Padilla then stepped up and drove Strelo home on a ground ball to second. The throw came home and got away from the catcher, allowing Westlund to score and giving Freedom a 3-2 lead – a lead they would not surrender.
With two outs in the fourth, Priscilla Olmos hit a bloop single to center field, scoring two runs. Padilla then stepped to the plate and blew the game open with a three-run homer to left field, giving Freedom an 8-2 lead. Monte Vista managed only one more run, scored in the top of the sixth.
“I thought we had overall good approaches at the plate,” said Jonas. “I hate the bye; I really can’t stand them. But it did help in that I could watch them (Monte Vista) play and get an idea about what I thought the pitching pattern was going to be, and then (assistant coach) Joey (Daniels) worked in the cages with the kids this week. Likewise, we did that with Madison. I think that this is one of the better-hitting teams I’ve seen this year, top to bottom.”
Despite the lopsided victory, the Falcon performance was far from flawless. A potential Freedom rally in the fifth inning was thwarted by a series of errors on the bases, resulting in one of the oddest double plays ever turned. After Ariana Hawkins led off with a bunt single, Katie Wood attempted a sacrifice bunt. The throw, however, went to second, where Hawkins was safe but turned too wide around the base. She was tagged out in the ensuing run-down, which didn’t last long enough for Wood to reach second safely.
“I chalk that up to just not being heads-up,” Jonas said. “I don’t know why. We work on that, and work on it, and work on it.”
Also hurting the Falcons was an uncharacteristically sloppy defensive effort. The only error they committed was by Jackie Zepeda on a ball with impossibly tough spin. The most confusing play came on a pop-up that Freedom second baseman Sarah Osborn appeared ready to catch but lost in the Sun.
“When you don’t play, having a bye, you do get a little rusty – at least high-schoolers,” said Jonas. “Pros and major-leaguers might not, but these are just kids. The hitting was there; we came through at the plate and I thought that we put pressure on them every inning. Even with the outs that we were making at the end, we still had two hard line drives.”