When the Freedom softball squad hosted Deer Valley in a match-up of the Bay Valley Athletic League's only two unbeaten teams last Thursday afternoon, both sides knew that the outcome would play a major factor in who would emerge as this year's league champion.
The Falcons entered the contest 13-1 overall and a perfect 6-0 in league play, and the Wolverines came in with an impressive 8-4-1 overall record and 5-0-1 mark in league play following a scoreless tie with Carondelet, which sits just a half game behind Freedom in the standings. Both teams had All-League pitchers toeing the rubber, as last year's league MVP Hannah Williams got the start for Freedom and Emily Allard got the go for Deer Valley.
The game, which promised to be a pitching duel of epic proportions, didn't disappoint, as Freedom senior Kortnee Wiley drove in the game's only run with an RBI triple in the home half of the third inning.
Deer Valley had a golden chance to blow the game open in the sixth inning after loading the bases with a single, a Freedom error and a walk. But Williams was able to get out of the jam with her phenomenal riseball, which she used to induce a harmless popup to shortstop.
We felt that we let the game get away from us, said Deer Valley head coach Amy Tillson. We thought we had them, but we just couldn't get it done with our hitting. It's very important to take advantage of every opportunity against Hannah she's a really, really good pitcher and she knew what pitches she had to throw with two outs and the bases loaded to get out of that situation. She has a great mental aspect to her game.
Tillson was also quick to point out that her own ace, Allard, threw an exceptional game against the Falcons and did a great job of bouncing back after allowing the go-ahead triple to Wiley and putting up goose-eggs for the rest of the afternoon.
The hot-hitting Freedom lineup managed just seven hits against Allard, three of which came off the bat of Wiley, whom Tillson touted as one of the top hitters in the league. However, the Falcons did a great job of putting the ball in play and forcing the Deer Valley defense to make plays. The Falcons didn't strike out once in the entire game.
Looking back at the game, we had seven hits and a hit-by-pitch, said Freedom head coach Jeff Jonas. Seven hits against Emily? If you were to promise me seven hits against her next time we play them, I'd take it right now and we'd figure out a way to manufacture runs. I believe you have to be able to manufacture runs against the top pitchers. When you have a kid like Hannah on the mound, you can be more patient and play for the one run and know that you have a chance to win that game.
Deer Valley bounced back with a 12-0 rout of Pittsburg on Tuesday, playing with a little added fire after the loss to Freedom, while the Falcons continued their perfect BVAL season with a 3-0 win over Antioch.
Both teams played Thursday after the Press went to print, and return to action next Tuesday, April 22, when the Lady Wolverines travel to Heritage and Freedom hosts Carondelet. Both games are scheduled for 4 p.m.
Freedom and Deer Valley lock horns once more this year, when Freedom travels to Deer Valley in the last week of the regular season.