By Michael Rich
Marissa McPhail tossed a complete game three-hitter and the top of the lineup sparked the offense as the Olentangy Liberty softball team cruised to a 10-1 OCC-Central Division win over visiting Thomas Worthington Monday in Powell.
The Patriots (4-7, 3-4 OCC) have struggled out of the gate this season, but have won four of five and three straight league games after Monday’s win over Thomas.
“We have six freshmen on this team … we have a lot of inexperience,” Liberty coach Bob Lee said. “At first it was a little hard for (the veterans) … but they’ve matured.”
“It was iffy there for a while, but I think we needed that to see where we needed to grow,” senior Miranda Noday said. “We’re really coming together right now.”
The Cardinals (3-8, 0-5) got to McPhail early. Sarah Boué worked a two-out walk and Jaime Zinsmeister drove her home with a deep double to right.
McPhail settled in and retired the next 12 batters and 19 of the final 21 batters. A Jerica Dunbar single to left with two outs in the fifth and Zinsmeister’s second hit, which led off the seventh, were the only blips on McPhail’s otherwise flawless outing.
“She didn’t give them a whole lot of good things to hit,” Bob Lee said. “She really pitched. She did a great job … she pitched smart.”
The sophomore retired 14 batters on groundouts and struck out four to pick up the win.
Noday led Liberty with three hits, three runs and a pair of stolen bases batting out of the number two spot in the order.
“She’s a smart baserunner — a very aggressive baserunner — and hit the ball well,” Bob Lee said.
Kaylin Lee, who batted third, hit a two-run homer in the first inning to put the Patriots on top for good. She finished with five runs batted in and scored two runs on two hits in four trips to the plate.
“It was definitely huge to jump on them early … bats are contagious,” Noday said. “Kaylin definitely came in clutch with that (hit). She definitely got the bats going.”
“Her home run was big off of a good pitcher,” Bob Lee said. “She was one of the leading RBI (producers) in the district last year.”
Liberty leadoff hitter Taylor Karlo also had two hits and scored two runs to go with a RBI. Kennedy Kashmiry also had two hits, a RBI and led the Patriots defensively behind McPhail with seven assists.
Boué took the loss for Thomas. She allowed three runs over four innings on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Liberty looks for a fourth straight league win at Central Crossing Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.