LaBrae breezes by Liberty in league tilt

LEAVITTSBURG — The Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference has been dominated by the Champion Golden Flashes over the years, and a pair of teams trying to once again chase down the Flashes squared off Monday.

LaBrae (6-2) hosted the Liberty Leopards and the Vikings came away with a big time league victory 18-1.

“Any league win is a good win,” said LaBrae coach Dwayne Buck. “We’re looking forward to playing more league games. We’re looking forward to playing more games period after all this weather. We’ll be playing every day if we can.”

Liberty (5-3) played six games last week, despite the wet conditions, before a long break.

“It was nice to be out playing,” said Liberty coach Brett Fine. “We played Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. When you have layoffs, you’ve gotta try to shake off the rust and move forward. The pitchers especially have to. We’re more competitive than we showed today. Hopefully, that will motivate us moving forward.”

Chloe Fleps started the game in the circle for the Leopards before giving way to Rachel Strohmeyer in the bottom of the second. Unfortunately for Liberty, the Vikings’ bats were red hot.

Senior Rylee McDonough knocked in multiple runs. Fellow senior Nalena Page had an RBI triple and scored on a wild pitch. Plus, a pair of freshmen came up with big performances as well.

Mariah Jones hammered a ball off the top of the wall that bounced over the fence for a 3-run homer in the bottom of the fourth.

“It could have gone further,” Jones said. “I was dropping. So, it wouldn’t have hit the fence if I wouldn’t have. That was my second home run this season. We’re a pretty young team. We’re all there for each other.”

Another freshman, Riley Rowe, pitched the entire game for LaBrae and finished it off by striking out the side in the top of the fifth.

“I was just trying to throw a lot of strikes,” Rowe said. “I had a couple of walks, but it happens. I’m working on my spin and my change up. I’ve pitched three complete games so far. I’m pretty proud of it.

“Our goal is to beat Champion. That’s been our goal since the start of the season because they are a really good team.”

Buck already knew what Rowe was capable of before she got to the varsity level.

“She’s our No. 1 pitcher,” he said. “I had watched her pitch several times in travel ball. I didn’t give it to her right away. I made her earn it. And, she’s earned it.

“We have two other really good pitchers in junior Vada Allen and freshman Leah DeArmitt. We’re really blessed with pitching this year.

“We just want to keep getting better. I don’t want to be playing our best ball at the beginning of the year. I want to get better every game and be playing our best ball heading into the playoffs. We expect to battle Champion and hopefully give them a run for the league.”

Have an interesting story? Contact the Sports Department by email at sports@tribtoday.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribChronSports.


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