Liberty coach Jim Portese did not envision running away with a win at Silverado in the opening round of the Sunrise Region softball tournament on Tuesday.
After all, the Skyhawks finished second in the Northeast League and averaged 13 runs in their 17 wins.
But Liberty pounced on Silverado, taking advantage of four errors to score eight runs in the first inning, and didn’t let up en route to an 11-0 win over the Skyhawks.
Liberty (15-7-2) collected its first playoff win in three years and will visit Foothill (17-13) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“Silverado is a good team, but it looked like they just came out flat,” Portese said. “A good team is going to jump on a team like that who is flat, unfortunately.”
Marisa Olmos started the game with a walk, and then it all quickly unraveled for Silverado. Ashleigh Rodriguez hit a weak ground ball to third, but a high throw to first sailed down the line, allowing Olmos to score and Rodriguez to advance to third.
Tiana Tapuala drove in Rodriguez with a single. Tapuala later scored on another throwing error.
Liberty had just three hits in the first inning, but brought 12 batters to the plate. Four of its eight runs were unearned.
“You still have to put the ball in play and you still have to make plays,” Portese said. “Unfortunately they had quite a bit of errors, but you take this win and you move on. We’ve got a very young team. You get on a roll with a young team and anything can happen.”
Olmos had a two-run double in her second at-bat of the first inning and finished with three runs scored.
Liberty pitcher Karly Dinkel had all the run support she needed, keeping Silverado off-balance and allowing just four hits. She struck out five.
“She hit her spots today and was very consistent,” Portese said. “This is probably the most consistent game she’s pitched so far. She comes out Saturdays and Sundays, she throws in the bullpen and she works on her game every single day.”
Dinkel’s only real trouble came in the fifth inning. After a flyout, Silverado was able to load the bases on a walk and two singles, with a batter-interference call in between, but Dinkel got a groundout to end the game.
“I just have this confidence and feeling in myself that I can do my job as part of the team,” Dinkel said. “If I hit my spots, I know they’ll hit it to places where my defense can make the play and get the outs.”
Even with the commanding win to open the playoffs, Portese knows there is still work left to be done.
Silverado (17-7) will host Las Vegas (7-19) in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Foothill 13, Las Vegas 3 — At Foothill, Sarah Maddox belted a grand slam in a six-run first inning that helped the Falcons pound the Wildcats in six innings.
Maddox was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and five RBIs, and Kelsey McFarland went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs for Foothill. Katelyn Enzweiler was 3-for-4 with two runs for the Falcons.
Samantha Taylor went 2-for-4 for Las Vegas.
Coronado 10, Green Valley 6 — At Coronado, Jaiden Johnson was 3-for-3 with two triples, a double, three runs and an RBI, and the Cougars (20-14-1) used a seven-run fourth inning to top the Gators (14-15).
Basia Query was 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and winning pitcher Danielle Amato went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for Coronado, which will visit Rancho (28-6-1) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Jinger Meuir was 3-for-4 with two runs, and Tara Hilton was 2-for-4 with a triple, a double and an RBI for Green Valley, which will host Basic (9-17) in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Rancho 11, Basic 1 — At Rancho, Samantha Pochop tossed a five-inning four-hitter with eight strikeouts to lead the Rams by the Wolves.
Jahnae Davis-Houston went 3-for-3 with an RBI, and Kayla Coles was 2-for-2 with an RBI for Rancho.
Paige Blake had an inside-the-park home run in the first inning for Basic.