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Liberty’s focus doesn’t wander in victory at Spring Jamboree

Liberty softball coach Jim Portese has stressed to his young team the need to give 100 percent at all times.

On a day when the Patriots could have had plenty of excuses to slack off a bit, they instead took his words to heart.

After tying Chaminade (Calif.) in their first game Thursday, the Patriots got a solid effort from pitcher Breanna Alvarez en route to a 4-1 six-inning win over Lincoln County in the pool-play portion of the Spring Jamboree at Majestic Park.

“As long as they play the game hard, that’s what we emphasize every day in practice in drills, 100 percent, 100 percent, 100 percent,” Portese said. “If you have that, you’re going to put yourself in a position to be successful.”

Clark County schools are on spring break, and minds of athletes tend to wander a bit, especially during games that have no bearing on potential playoff seeds.

If the Patriots (8-3-1) were thinking about beaches or swimming pools or cookouts, it didn’t show.

“They’ve never given up in any game we’ve played so far this year,” said Portese, who has just two seniors but five freshmen on his roster. “We’re turning the corner as far as girls coming in and understanding the philosophy of what we want to do as coaches.”

Alvarez, a freshman, allowed three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts against Lincoln County (13-3).

The Patriots also played well defensively, highlighted by second baseman Kylie Hefley’s snag of a low soft liner that started a double play in the sixth inning. Liberty also caught two Lynx runners trying to steal.

Felicia Rivera’s RBI double with one out in the fourth inning broke a scoreless tie, and back-to-back doubles by Alvarez and McKenna Hefley started a three-run spurt in the fifth.

Liberty totaled eight hits, four of them in the fifth inning.

“We’ve been dropping our hands a lot, and we have to correct that,” Portese said. “When we concentrate and do the right thing, you see what can happen.”

Kylie Hefley was 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI for Liberty. Ashleigh Rodriguez had an RBI double in the sixth for the Patriots, who have shown major improvement this season after finishing 10-10 last year.

Aspen Wilkin homered in the fifth inning for Lincoln County.

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.

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